In 1937, Franklin Delano Roosevelt reminded American citizens that “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” Roosevelt’s words, as well as the concern he demonstrates about widespread socioeconomic inequality, are as applicable now as they were 80 years ago, for both the United States and the global community.
One of the most prevalent injustices that plagues not only America, but the world as a whole, is the massive socio-economic disparity that defines today’s global landscape. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 43 million Americans were in poverty as of 2015. Worldwide, extreme poverty is a reality for 1.6 billion. At the same time, 50 percent of the entire world’s wealth is in the hands of the top one percent of the socio-economic hierarchy, whereas the bottom half of the global population holds just one percent; that gap is only continuing to expand.
There are two primary ways in which society can move towards addressing the issue of worldwide socio-economic inequality: first, by establishing the right to adequate housing, and second, by promoting universal education.
Access to adequate housing is a prerequisite to the rights to work, healthcare, social security, vote, privacy, and education. Without a place of residency, people are severely limited in terms of what they can access in order to improve their socioeconomic standings. The lack of safe and secure housing perpetuates poverty and homelessness, which in turn widens the wealth gap by fueling a vicious cycle of income inequality and poor quality of life. Providing access to stable places of residency creates the environment necessary for household level socioeconomic security and growth by enabling the socioeconomically disadvantaged to access other societal needs. Because of this, implementing the right to adequate housing is essential to escaping the poverty trap.
In addition to adequate housing, providing quality education to disadvantaged populations is critical to bridging the world’s wealth gap. Access to higher education directly increases socio-economic mobility, and is thus a first step to addressing systemic poverty. Because it is fundamentally linked to economic security, education of all levels – primary, secondary, tertiary, and beyond – is key to unlocking the cage of income inequality . By extending more education opportunities to lower-income families throughout the world, it is possible to grant access to greater economic stability and thus maximize social justice. Inclusivity in quality education is vital to the development of a solution to the global wealth gap; it is central to creating a more economically equal future.
The worldwide issue of socioeconomic inequity is by no means one that is simple to solve; however, access to housing and education are critical steps in the right direction. The world has experienced incredible growth over the course of the last century; this progress ought to be reflected in the way in which we respond to the injustice of socioeconomic disparity. Today’s world is characterized by an ever-increasing divide between the top one percent and the rest of the population; today, it is time to bridge that gap.
written for SVR Teen Essay Contest 2017