In Even it Up: Time to End Extreme Inequality, Oxfam has delivered another powerful report making the case that tackling inequality is essential to create a more just world and to eliminate extreme poverty. I was asked to comment on this newly released report at an October 31 event held at the IMF, and was as impressed by the presentation as I was with the report.
Oxfam effectively uses research findings to advocate for policy changes to reduce global inequality. This statistics-laden report also wisely features compelling stories about real people, helping the reader to better understand how vast disparities in wealth adversely affect wellbeing. Oxfam has consistently argued to bring inequality to the fore of policy discussions, and not surprisingly, this report appears to have created a groundswell for their global #Even It Up campaign. While there were instances where I found myself questioning the quality of some references supporting a few statements and estimates, my overall reaction was that the ‘big picture’ claims of the report were well substantiated. In my comments, I suggest that if this report is a call to action, a useful next step for Oxfam or a partner in this work, will be to bring more clarity to what it means to eliminate extreme inequality. Establishing a goal or a measure to monitor progress will help to create better policies, and ensure better collaboration across governments and institutions.
As a separate, but related point, it’s striking to see how the focus of both the World Bank and the IMF has changed significantly over the years to now explicitly include the importance of reducing inequities and ensuring that all people share in the benefits of growth. I recently co-led the team that produced the just-published Policy Research Report 2014: A Measured Approach to Ending Poverty and Boosting Shared Prosperity: Concepts, Data, and the Twin Goals, and I see ample room for future collaboration with Oxfam on these vitally important priorities. One point of emphasis in our report is that there is a need to improve and expand both the data and analysis on inequality, an area we’ve long studied, but which is now far higher on the political agenda, thanks to #Even It Up.
Here’s my powerpoint from the event.