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Tackling Inequality Is a Political Choice

Under the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda for 2030, the world is committed to eliminating extreme poverty and reducing inequality between and within countries. Yet without a far greater effort by governments and multilateral institutions to address inequality in particular, neither objective will be met.

NEW YORK – The world has made impressive strides in reducing extreme poverty, but that progress has slowed considerably in recent years. The problem is clear: eliminating extreme poverty requires tackling inequality.

The good news is that inequality between all people worldwide has declined since 1990, mirroring the reduction in poverty. The bad news is that within-country inequality has risen. Compared to 25 years ago, the average person today is far more likely to live in an economy with higher inequality. And, beyond income and wealth, there are still large disparities – between and within countries – with respect to food and nutrition, health care, education, land, clean water, and other things essential for a full and dignified life.

Far from an inevitable, inequality is a political choice. Governments that want to reduce income and wealth gaps and improve the lives and opportunities available to their poorest have shown both effort and some progress. Since 2015, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – specifically Goal 10 – have brought unprecedented attention to this issue.

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