We are living through the era of Big Data with all its promises and consequences. But is the world also splitting into the data “haves” and “have nots”?

That’s the contention of a new report out today from a UN panel of independent experts from academia and business which warns that the world needs to do more to bolster the data capabilities of developing countries in order to fight poverty more effectively. Read more

By Mark Goldring of Oxfam

From the IMF to the Pope, from President Barack Obama to the World Economic Forum, there is a growing consensus that extreme economic inequality is one of the defining challenges of our time and that failure to address it is both economically and socially damaging. Yet despite this consensus, very little is being done.

The number of billionaires in the world has more than doubled since 2009. But while those at the top have recovered from the recession quickly, the benefits of economic growth are not being shared evenly. This means that while the wealthy are getting richer, we are not eradicating poverty at the speed that we could. Read more

South America’s economies are slowing. US interest rates are rising and commodity prices are starting to drop. The region will grow a mere 1.2 per cent this year, according to the World Bank’s latest forecasts. Worse, “it is not clear whether the slowdown is bottoming out,” the bank suggests. That is bad enough, and South America has been through such cycles before. But adding to the gloom is what this might mean for the region’s recent reduction in inequality – which, by the way, has been a globally unique phenomenon. Is it all about to go into reverse? Read more

Michael Sandel is the Harvard University political philosophy professor best known for his ideas on justice – but how well do his ideas travel?

On Thursday he spoke at the Asia Society in Mumbai. beyondbrics went along to find out. Read more

There are several conventional measures of living standards, such as average income, but they often mask great inequalities.

So it’s good to see Crisil, the Indian unit of Standard & Poor’s, using census data on ownership of consumer durables – such as televisions, computers, phones and a car, jeep or two-wheeler – to assess prosperity and inequality across the country in an index. Read more

With violence on the streets of Egypt coming hot on the heels of the public protests in Brazil and Turkey, it takes a brave man to write a report entitled: “EM is not much riskier than DM”.

But Simon Quijano-Evans of Commerzbank has done just that – arguing that while young populations put emerging markets at greater risk of political upheavals they also provide the energy that will power developing economies into the future while the developed world is held by back by the burdens of debt and old age. It’s probably true in the long run, but for a leader like Egypt’s Mohamed Morsi it’s the next few days that matter. Read more

Private wealth in the Gulf states has grown 7 per cent over the past year amid strong oil revenues and rebounding equity markets, but the region continues to harbour some of the world’s starkest wealth disparities, a new study shows, reports Simeon Kerr.

Wealth in the broader Middle East and Africa has risen from $4.4tn in 2011 to a forecast $4.8tn in 2012, putting it in the “same ballpark” as global growth of 8 per cent in the same period, says Boston Consulting Group’s Global Wealth Report 2013. Read more

The news that Guangzhou is to start building a costly cemetery exclusively for revolutionary heroes and government officials this October has stirred up something of an online controversy.

With the cost of cemetery space far higher than housing, it has highlighted the increasing inequality in Chinese society – in death, as well as in life. Read more

South Korea’s new president, Park Geun-hye, has promised $125bn of extra social spending over five years, hoping to fulfil campaign pledges to address growing inequality. The FT’s Simon Mundy reports from Seoul.

By Duncan Green of Oxfam

The Brics grouping of countries is starting to generate some interesting conversations of its own. Last week, I was in Durban, chairing a discussion between academics and activists from South Africa and Brazil ahead of the Brics summit later this month. The topic? ‘Tackling inequality across Brics’. Read more

Critics of lotteries the world over often describe them as taxes on the poor, and for good reason. From the US to Spain, lower-income citizens are the biggest buyers of lottery tickets, and, as a group, they will lose at least 35 per cent of what they spend.

In China, though, it is more accurate to describe the lottery as a tax on hope. Those buying tickets tend to earn more than average, but they have run into the chasm that is China’s wealth gap and see the lottery as their best bridge across it. Read more

In 2009, G20 leaders proclaimed: “The era of banking secrecy is over.” They pledged to close down secrecy jurisdictions that enabled banks to take risks off their balance sheets and allowed wealthy companies and individuals to evade tax.

It was an empty pledge, according to a weekend report by former McKinsey chief economist James Henry, and it is costing emerging market governments a lot of money. Read more

By Barbara Stocking of Oxfam

World leaders will have much more on their plates than the traditional G20 banquet when they meet in Los Cabos this week.

For many, the G20’s job will have been done if economic meltdown in Europe is averted and the rest of the world spared the consequences. Oxfam – which was formed in 1942 in response to the hardship faced by Greeks during the wartime blockade – is anxious to see leaders take concerted action to reduce the suffering of people across the continent who bear no responsibility for the current crisis. Read more

Fancy a metaphor for India’s unequal society? How does a contrast between a pair of $1 trainers and a shirt selling for $90,000 strike you?

Well, thanks to Reebook and Amitabh Chandel, an Indian designer from a princely family, such a comparison now exists. Make of it what you will. Read more

Call it life imitating art. Three years after Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire was crowned Best Picture at the Oscars, a 27-year-old man from one of India’s poorest states has enacted his own poor-boy-makes-good inspirational story. But the story highlights a new Indian problem – what to do with sudden wealth. Read more

Beyondbrics loves nothing more than a bit of myth-busting. So a research note on Tuesday by Renaissance Capital debunking the notion that Russia is a society of rich playboy oligarchs surrounded by poor workers certainly caught the eye.

Russia, in fact, is only marginally more unequal than China and India, and far better placed than Brazil. Read more

Nigeria may be a country plagued by corruption, violence and pockets of deep poverty but it’s also home to the largest middle class in Africa.

And that middle class, of some 37m people, is ready to spend. According to an opinion poll carried out for Renaissance Capital, a Russian investment bank, more than 9m of them plan to buy a microwave in the next 12 months and more than 8m plan to buy a washing machine. Manufacturers take note. Read more

Amid spectacular economic growth, Indian efforts to combat the country’s devastating poverty have largely failed. That’s one reason why the Indian government has decided to take a stab at redefining the very definition of the word “poverty”.

In a move widely derided by social scientists and NGOs, India’s main planning commission on Tuesday filed an affidavit with the country’s Supreme Court to update the country’s poverty line, the Economic Times reportedRead more