New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.
Growing inequality is one of the defining challenges of our time. Seven out of 10 people live in countries where the gap between rich and poor is greater than it was 30 years ago, Oxfam reports. Inequality has also been on the radar of World Economic Forum topping its annual survey of global risks this year. Christine LaGarde, head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has also recently warned that rising inequality is choking economic growth, and leaving “a wasteland of discarded potential”.
What role can the Internet play in helping to address inequality? The Internet can be an enabler of equal opportunity and broad-based growth because, among other things, it can:
- Reduce entry barriers and shake-up monopolies;
- Lower the costs of acquiring and disseminating information;
- Help individuals build social capital that helps them find better jobs and services;
- Match workers to job opportunities and enable traders to overcome geographical isolation; and
- Enable wider political participation and voice
Unfortunately, over four billion people are not connected to the Internet; ninety percent of them live in the developing world. The following graph from Web Index shows, there is a very strong correlation between per capita income and access to the Internet, with the steepest increases in Internet penetration taking place as average income rises from $0 to $10,000 per year.
The Internet’s contribution to development is strongly correlated with wealth, in part, because access is still heavily skewed in favor of those living in high-income countries. However, digital divides also exist within countries because the skills needed to fully benefit from information and communications technology, like the web, can be unevenly distributed among population groups. According to the IMF and OECD, the Internet revolution is increasing the wage gap between the very highly skilled and everyone else, making technological progress the single biggest factor driving income inequality in both advanced and developing countries.
Thus, while the benefits of internet access are clear for promoting shared prosperity, unequal connectivity and access rates can actually create the contrary dynamics for greater inequality.
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Source: Web Index