Empowering civic activism toward a culture of peace.

Karen Tam

Greater Wealth, More Poor People?

Do countries with greater wealth have less poor people?  Unfortunately, examples such as U.S. and some European countries show us that it is not the case (Lawson, 2012).  

However, there are some countries that lifted people out of poverty.   One of the examples is Brazil.  Brazil’s economy, with large and well-developed agricultural, mining, manufacturing, and service sectors, has been growing and expanding globally (Central Intelligence Agency, 2011).   There were about 12 million people who left poverty behind from 1999 to 2009.  In other words, the proportion of the poor was reduced from about 1 in 9 to less than 1 in 25 (Lawson, 2012). 

Causes of wealth inequality include political influence for certain groups, opportunities to receive education and professional training, and ability to collect information (Little, 2009).  In addition, compared with the receipt of inheritances and increase in income inequality, uneven receipt of capital gains is a significant factor to lead to wealth inequality (Smith, 2004).  Moreover, wealth inequality makes negative impacts to the society.  A recent IMF research revealed that high level of inequality leads to shorter time period of economic growth (Lawson, 2012).

How did Brazil do to reduce poverty and to fight wealth inequality?  In terms of public policies, progressive taxation and redistributive transfers through different methods such as healthcare and education are believed to be workable solutions to close the wealth gap (Lawson, 2012).  Some public policy tools are also suggested for fighting wealth inequality such as gender equality, market regulations, and free public services (Lawson, 2012).   In addition to difficulties of closing the wealth gap, different countries face different situations and environments; and therefore there is no single, standard formula to solve the wealth inequality problem in all situations and environments.   However, it is definitely worthwhile to study how other countries or states handle this issue.



Central Intelligence Agency. (2011).  The World Factbook.  Retrieved November 15, 2011, from

Lawson, Max. (2012).  Greater Wealth in Emerging Economies Won't Reduce Inequality by Itself.  Retrieved January 19, 2012, from

Little, Daniel. (2009). Wealth Inequality. Retrieved July 29, 2009, from

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Tags: inequality, policy, poverty, wealth


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