UNITED NATIONS, Jan 22 (APP):Economic inequality is growing across countries with more than 70 per cent of the global population, benefitting the wealthiest, according to flagship U.N. report

The World Social Report 2020, released by the United Nations amid an ongoing summit of the world’s rich and powerful in Davos, Switzerland, said the historically high levels of inequality are closing the door to a better life for millions of people as greater inequality stifles economic growth and can escalate political instability.

“Growing inequality in both developing and developed countries could exacerbate divisions and slow economic and social development,” it said.

Over 70 per cent of the world”s population today live in countries where inequality has grown, which include India, it said.

Besides, inequality is rising again even in some of the countries that have seen inequality decline in recent decades, such as Brazil, Argentina and Mexico.

The challenges are underscored by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in the foreword, in which he states that the world is confronting “the harsh realities of a deeply unequal global landscape”, in which economic woes, inequalities and job insecurity have led to mass protests in both developed and developing countries.

Income inequality has increased in most developed countries, and some middle-income countries – including China, which has the world’s fastest growing economy

“Income disparities and a lack of opportunities”, he writes, “are creating a vicious cycle of inequality, frustration and discontent across generations.”

The study shows that the richest one per cent of the population are the big winners in the changing global economy, increasing their share of income between 1990 and 2015, while at the other end of the scale, the bottom 40 per cent earned less than a quarter of income in all countries surveyed.

One of the consequences of inequality within societies, notes the report, is slower economic growth. In unequal societies, with wide disparities in areas such as health care and education, people are more likely to remain trapped in poverty, across several generations.