Recovery and Equality

NEW YORK – The global economic crisis is exacerbating an existing human crisis. Prior to 2008, there were widespread inequalities: lavish lifestyles for some, while half of the world’s children were living on less than $2 per day, suffering from malnutrition and limited access to health, education, drinking water, and adequate housing. As the crisis unfolded, millions confronted deteriorating living conditions.

Today, while global attention focuses on Europe’s woes, the economic crisis continues to inflict devastating social consequences worldwide. In a new book from UNICEF’s Division of Policy and Practice, A Recovery for All: Rethinking Socioeconomic Policies for Children and Poor Households, analysis of the latest international data shows that unaffordable food, pervasive unemployment, and dwindling social support threaten much of the world’s population.

For starters, after two major international food-price spikes in 2007-2008 and 2010-2011, people in nearly 60 developing countries are paying 80% more, on average, for local foodstuffs in 2012 than they did before the crisis. As a result, poor families’ food security is threatened, as they are forced to reduce the quality or quantity of their food.

Furthermore, labor markets around the world are providing fewer jobs and lower salaries, increasing the incidence of poverty among employed people, which has already trapped nearly one billion workers and their families. Moreover, two of every five workers worldwide are unable to find a job, while rampant youth unemployment, coupled with a quickly growing pool of young laborers – more than one billion are expected to enter the world’s workforce between 2012 and 2020 – is further complicating labor-market recovery.