This years Blog Action Day is about #Inequality. I am Dutch and I live in America, so I decided to look at those two countries, when it comes to Inequality.
In the Netherlands:
- the people get older (at birth).
- they get about 1 year less education.
- the GNI is about $10.000-, less.
- the overal equality is more even. (the IHDI at both countries is not equal to the HDI, but the difference between these two in America is bigger).
- the gender inequality index is lower.
- the employment to population ratio is the same.
- the international trade is more than 5 times bigger.
- people migrate less.
- carbon dioxide emission is more than 6 ton less.
- the population is almost 19 times less.
...compared to America.
You can see the statistics where I obtained this information from below:
You can see that the Netherlands ranks 4th and America 5th in the world. So, if you look at all the numbers together they aren't far apart.
I want to zoom in at the 'Inequality' part.
The inequality in income is 11,8% in the Netherlands, to 35,6% in America. This difference is very big, in my opinion. The bigger the inequality in income, the bigger the problems if you look at human development. It can also mean that people in the lower-income group can't allocate sufficient resources to health and education.
There seems to be a causality between how tall people are and their health and welness. The Dutch are the tallest people in the world, men: 184.8 cm (6' 0.8") and women: 168.7 cm (5' 6.4") and the Americans are way smaller, men:178.2 cm (5' 10.2") women: 164.1 cm (5' 4.6").
You can see that from 1980 (my birth year!) the people in the Netherlands got taller (they even have a website especially for tall people!) and the people in the USA got smaller. Prof. Drukker (University of Groningen) thinks that it has to do with the sharing of health. As Cecily Layzell writes:
The most convincing argument for why the Dutch have grown so tall so recently was put forward by J.W. Drukker, a professor of economic history at the University of Groningen. His studies revealed that the Dutch growth spurt of the mid-19th century coincided with the establishment of the first liberal democracy. Before this time, Holland had grown rich off its colonies but the wealth had stayed in the hands of the elite. After this time, the wealth began to trickle down to all levels of society, the average income went up and so did the height.
Since then, the gap between the rich and poor in Holland has remained relatively narrow, and the country now has some of the best pre- and postnatal care in the world. This is in direct contrast to America, for example, where the population, once more than 3 inches taller than the average Dutchman, has not increased in height for 25 years.
So, if you share in your wealth, all people can grow taller and be healthier. The bigger your inequality in income, the bigger the inequality in health(care) and education.
As Burkhard Bilger writes:
As America’s rich and poor drift further apart, its growth curve may be headed in the opposite direction, Komlos and others say. The eight million Americans without a job, the forty million without health insurance, the thirty-five million who live below the poverty line are surely having trouble measuring up. And they’re not alone. As more and more Americans turn to a fast-food diet, its effects may be creeping up the social ladder, so that even the wealthy are growing wider rather than taller. “I’ve seen a similar thing in Guatemala,” Bogin says. “The rich kids are taken care of by poor maids, so they catch the same diseases. When they go out on the street, they eat the same street food. They may get antibiotics, but they’re still going to get exposed.”
While both countries are in the top 5 of the World, I still think that America has a lot to learn when it comes to income / health / education equality!
In my opinion it should not be possible that in one country the differences are that big. If you look at the educational system in America, I think it's shocking! Even public schools aren't really public. People that have a larger income, can live in the neighborhoods with better public schools. The higher the property taxes you pay, the better the public schools in your neighborhood will be. So if your income is low, you will buy a house in a 'bad neighborhood' which results in a 'bad school' and probably gives you less chance to a good education. Of course you can earn a scholarship or get a loan, but I really think the fundaments of your education begin at a good Elementary School (maybe even Pre-K, but a lot of people can't pay those high prices!). Even the teachers get bigger bonuses when the children score higher. I am not sure where the bonuses are based on, I hope it's not only based on the grades / scores that students get. I really hope they base the bonuses on the progress the students make during the year, compared to themselves and not compared to others in their school or even in different schools. In my opinion you can't make an fair comparison that way. And if you think even one step further; where will (good) teachers go to? To the schools in the 'bad neighborhoods' of the ones in the 'good neighborhoods'? You tell me...
What can YOU do about this?
(btw I am in the Netherlands now, annual-home-leave, so I decided it was the 16th here already, and I published).
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