The Guardian’s Inequality Project.
The Guardian has initiated the Inequality Project, which is supported by the Ford Foundation. Its purpose is to shed fresh light on the many issues of inequality and social unfairness. The World Economic Forum Global Risks Report’s top risk to the global economy for 2017 is rising income and wealth inequality. The report warned that society was not keeping pace with technological change. It found that of the 12 emerging technologies, artificial intelligence and robotics had the greatest potential benefits, but also contained the greatest negative threats. “Technology has always created jobs as well as destroying them, but there is evidence that the engine of technological job creation is sputtering,” the report said, citing evidence that only 0.5% of the current US workforce was employed in sectors created since 2000 compared with approximately 8% in industries created in the 1980s. “Technological change is shifting the distribution of income from labour to capital: according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, up to 80% of the decline in labour’s share of national income between 1980 and 2007 was the result of the impact of technology.” Since the 1980s, the share of income going to the top 1% wealthiest citizens has increased in the UK, the US, Canada, Ireland and Australia – though not Germany, France, Japan or Sweden – says the WEF. This group has shielded itself from austerity and the worst of the post-financial crash recession. Investments in new technology put a premium on workers with higher education and better skills, leaving the unskilled to languish on low pay, while globalisation has raised the incomes of the world’s poorer workers at the expense of those in the west. The discontent this brings about “has now become an election-winning proposition” that demands action, says the WEF.
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