Public Health Professor: Global economy creates social unrest
Globalised economy has made countries slightly more equal, but at the same time inequality within countries has increased even more, says Gloria Macassa, professor in public health sciences at the University of Gävle.
“Economic growth has been advantageous for society and higher incomes have paved the way for better options, richer lives and improved quality of life,” Gloria Macassa explains.
But a one-eyed focus on only business-related perspectives, where profit is the most important aspect, creates an unsustainable economy.
“Such an economy creates inequality of many different kinds and leads to a polarised and divided society,” Gloria Macassa says.
Inequality is larger now
She points to the fact that inequality in the OECD-countries is larger now than 20-30 years ago. The rich have grown richer and the middle class and the poor have had to watch their economic situation deteriorate. Households with lower incomes have higher sick-leave rates and lower satisfaction in life. People become sick and stressed because of financial problems.
“Large income gaps polarise and undermine social cohesion in society. It is not sustainable and only increases social unrest and more conflicts.”
Can a sustainable economy include economic growth?
“A sustainable economy which includes economic growth needs a combination of measures,” Gloria Massaca explains. A careful economy needs to take limited resources into account when it comes to trade with other countries and take a long-term perspective at home by creating opportunities for all.
“We need to invest in opportunities for generations, through work, schools etcetera. And globalisation must be sustainable and work for everyone.”
Gloria states that we need economic growth that everyone gets a share of. Right now, we have the very poor and the very rich and opportunities are disappearing for the poor. She establishes the fact that shared wealth strengthens everyone’s ability to prosper physically, mentally and socially as well as to strengthen our ability to take part in social life in a meaningful way.
“In this manner, shared wealth contributes to increased social well-being in society and in the business sector, since it promotes shared prosperity.”
Gloria Macassa’s goal is a fair society with equal opportunities for everyone.
“The two need to go hand in hand. In Scandinavia, we have welfare for everyone, but we do not have equal opportunities for all, as we have relative poverty. Opportunities for education and social conditions differ.
“We will always have people who choose not to seize the opportunities at their disposal. But for those who want to do that, opportunities to fulfil their potential must exist.
Gloria underlines that we know that we need to move towards inclusive growth. The journey there will look different in different countries, however, as countries have different needs.
“To be able to hand over our world to future generations, we need to invest in inclusive growth. It will be the issue of the century, because all other goals are in fact affected by inclusive growth.
“Economic sustainability - from a multidisciplinary perspective”
During 2017, the University of Gävle invites you to a seminar series called “Economic sustainability - from a multidisciplinary perspective.” The lectures address economic sustainability integrated into different contexts like, for instance, the field of ethics, technological and environmental development, social sustainability and school development.
Different perspectives are addressed at seven different lunch seminars. Soup is served.