Development & Inequality


Readings: ii

Introduction 1

Learning Outcomes: 1

  1. Why Study Inequality? 1
  2. Studying Inequality 2
  3. Why Study Ethnicity, Gender an d Class? 3
  4. How Are Power And Inequality Related? 5

Warm-up Exercise 5

Regina’s experience of social divisions and inequality 5

Your Experiences Of Social Divisions And Inequality 7

We ek 1: Readings and Activities 8

  1. What is development? 8
  2. Measuring Development 10
  3. Optional Activities 21

Week 2: Readings and Activities 23

  1. What is inequality? 23
  2. Analysing Inequality 25
  3. Inequality in New Zealand 31
  4. Optional Activit ies 34

Summary 36

Glossary 38

References 39

Background reading 40




Greiner, A.L. (2014) ‘Geographies of development’. In Visualizing Human Geography. Wiley, pp.263-295

Todaro, M. & Smith, S. (2012). What do we mean by development? In Economic Development (pp. 14–23). Pearson Education Ltd.


Thekaekara, M. M. (1999). ‘Calvin Klein and the Tea Pickers’. New Internationalist, March: 12-15.

Rashbrooke, M. (2013). ‘Why inequality matters’. In Rashbrooke, M. (ed.) In Inequality:

A New Zealand Crisis. Bridget Willams Books, pp.1-17



Learning Outcomes:

At the end of this topic on understanding development and inequality you will:

· Have broadened your understanding of various dimensions of development and inequality.

· Be able to name several different ways of measuring development and inequality.

· Understand the impact of inequality on development outcomes.

  1. Why Study Inequality?

Feedback from past students doing this course indicates that they learned a great deal about the impact of ‘development’ on people’s lives and that they gained deeper insights into some current global issues. Not surprisingly, however, they also found that studying inequality can also be somewhat depressing. Why, then, do we persist in teaching this topic? Taylor (1992:20) has conveniently provided me with two very good reasons:

1 He argues that ‘…global inequalities are going to become the most important political issue in the world in the wake of the demise of the Cold War’.

2 Taylor goes on to say that ‘…understanding global inequalities is a key stage in the process of overcoming them’.

Taylor’s first point has proved prescient. From the revelations of the Global Financial Crisis and the Occupy movement to the release of documentaries such as Inequality for All (Kornbluth,2013), and the publication of top-selling books on inequality includingWilkinson and Pickett’s (2010) The Spirit Level and Piketty’s (2014) Capital in the Twenty-first Century, discussionsof inequality have become highly prominent in globalpolitics. New Zealand has not been exempt from this, with the publication of the book Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis (Rashbrooke,2013) and a steady stream of commentaryon the issue from politicians and the media. These all go some way towards addressing Taylor’s second point, that understanding inequalities is a key stage in overcoming them.

This course is designed to help you better understand global inequalities and how they might be addressed. As you work through the course you may also want to give some thought to the following quote:

‘Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings’.

Nelson Mandela, 2005.

  1. Studying Inequality

Throughout the course we will refer to a wide range of maps, graphs and other media to explore inequality and development. To begin, we take a global view. Take a look at Figure 1 below (Figure 9.1 from Greiner, 2014 – Reading 1, p.265). If poverty is indeed ‘man-made’, why is it that so many of the world’s low-income countries are concentrated in Africa, South Asia, and South-East Asia? (think of processes of colonization, exploitation of labour and natural resources).

Figure 1: Global inequality and economic development

Optional: The inequalities between nations can also be explored using NationalGeographic’s interactive map of “com/2011/03/age-of-man/map-interactive?utm_content=bufferdc8a9&utm_medium=social&”> The World of Seven Billion 1 ”.


While Figure 1 and the National Geographic map give a global view of the impact of inequality, research has shown that inequality within a country can have a significant impact on the well-being of all people. High rates of income inequality within countries coincides with: a) higher rates of poverty; b) slow rates of economic growth; c) high rates of unemployment; and d) high crime rates (Wade, 2004, p. 582). While we tend to associate these impacts with the lower income countries, this is increasingly also a concern in high income countries (including New Zealand). This is revealed in Wilkinson and Picket’s 2009 book The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better, which focuses on high income countries. Wilkinson and Pickett found that foreleven different health and social problems (physical health, mental health, drug abuse, education, imprisonment, obesity, social mobility, trust and community life, violence, teenage pregnancies, and child well-being) outcomes are significantly worse in more unequal countries. As such, although the primary focus of this course is on global inequalities and inequalities within lower income nations, we will also explore the impacts of inequality in rich nations including New Zealand. This will raise some interesting questions about the nature of development and what we mean by the term ‘developed’ nation.

  1. Why Study Ethnicity, Gender and Class?

Inequality is often discussed in terms of income (including in the studies cited above), however the social divisions that social scientists believe exert the greatest influence and carry the most explanatory power are those associated with class, gender and ethnicity. These divisions shape societies, determining how wealth, opportunities, resources (material and cultural) and life chances are distributed between different groups in society. This distribution is typically uneven and leads to many inequalities.

There are other social divisions as well of course; age, physical and mental disability, come to mind for me. You can probably think of some other social divisions. The main ones we will examine in this course are discussed in the following box:


  1. Class

Class inequalities arise from the differential access of different groups to economic goods, resources and opportunities.

  1. Gender

Inequalities of gender are associated with the differential:

· status accorded to men and women

· opportunities open to men and women

· the power and influence men and women exert.

  1. Ethnicity

Inequalities associated with ethnicity refer to situations where one group is disadvantaged in comparison to another because of its ethnic characteristics.

(Open University, 1991)

Why Are Gender, Ethnicity And Class Of Interest To Geographers?

Because they are social processes and all social processes have spatial form. Social processes, such as class, gender and ethnicity, result in spatial forms and distributions. Nothing happens on the head of a pin. The best way to explain this is by use of examples.

Ethnicity manifested in space:

The location of a hydroelectric dam in a valley which once provided the subsistence needs of an indigenous people results in their displacement to the streets of an overcrowded city; here, distanced from their source of livelihood, from religious sites and from their land, which has spiritual significance for them, their culture quickly erodes.

Gender manifested in space:

Multinational corporations locate factories in certain Asian countries where there is a large pool of reserve labour; here they choose to employ mainly females who are seen to possess desirable cultural traits, such as being docile and not participating in political activities.

Class manifested in space:

Exploitation of rural peasants by large landowners forces the peasants to move to towns where they occupy shanty towns or ghettos within a city.

  1. How Are Power And Inequality Related?

Different social classes, gender groups and ethnic groups have different degrees of power, influence and authority in any society. They also have unequal access to wealth, goods and material resources and consequently there are significant degrees of inequalities between them.

The powerful are able to amass wealth, have higher incomes, own a greater share of the property and purchase more goods and resources than those with less power. Interestingly, world leaders have the power to divert more resources to overcoming poverty and inequality at their fingertips, but they choose not to do this. Instead, they continue to devote 20 times as much expenditure to military purposes than what is spent on aid projects (Fickling, 2004). Thus world leaders do not lack the resources to educate the world’s children, they lack the political will. This provides a clear example of how power and inequality are related. We will be exploring this relationship further throughout the course.

Warm-up Exercise

Regina’s experience of social divisions and inequality

Through travelling overland from Indonesia to Turkey, and doing research in the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Southern Africa, I have witnessed inequality on a number of different scales.In several countries there were certain ‘sensitive’ areas where travellers were forbidden from venturing unless they had special permission. These areas included East Timor and the northern areas of Sulawesi in

Indonesia, the Chittagong hill tracts in Bangladesh and Kashmir, India, where stones were thrown at my bus by independence fighters angry at the Indian government. While the inhabitants of these regions are labelled dissidents by the government because of their struggle for independence, in most cases they have experienced extreme hardship and outright repression at the hands of the state.

In Calcutta, poverty was prevalent. People begging, sleeping, cooking, raising their families and delivering babies on the street was testament to this. This was no place to feel sorry, however, for the ‘human horses’ who pulled the rickshaws around the busy streets both day and night for we learned that, while exploitation at the hands of moneylenders, landlords and the police was likely, those who had a rickshaw to pull at least had some income to bring home to their family at night.

In the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, agricultural programmes continually targeted men even though women were traditionally the chief agriculturalists and had much knowledge about effective ways of cultivating their land. Similarly, girls were kept out of school because they were more useful at home than boys, and because most girls would eventually move away to live with their husband’s family, so their education was seen as being of little use to their own family.

In Southern Africa, wonderful game parks had been created out of land that once provided the basis of livelihoods for thousands of indigenous Africans. While safari operators and governments reap the economic benefits of these parks and predominantly white tourists feast their eyes on the aesthetic beauty of Africa’s wildlife, the impoverished people surrounding the parks have often been denied access to resources such as water, meat, craft materials and medicinal plants from within the parks.

And let us not forget, inequality exists ‘at home’ as well. Whether it is from media reports on landlords not wanting Asian or Pacific Island or Maori tenants, statistics on the growing gap between the ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ in New Zealand, or an acquaintance speaking with sadness of how her 5 year old son came home from school stating ‘Mum, I wish I could change my brown skin to ‘white’, it is clear that New Zealand does not offer all citizens the same opportunities.

Your Experiences Of Social Divisions And Inequality

What experiences of inequality have you had, either personally or what you have witnessed, either in New Zealand or overseas? (Try to identify it as either class, ethnic or gender inequality).

Week 1: Readings and Activities

  1. What is development? What do you think ‘development’ involves? List your ideas below:

Required reading

Read page 264 of Reading 1 (Greiner, 2014): What is Development?

What is Greiner’s definition of development? How does this relate to the list you wrote?

This is a good point at which to start your own glossary. Use a Word document or pen & paper to list terms you are unfamiliar with or which have multiple definitions (such as development), adding definitions as you come across them in the course materials and readings. You can also check the Stream glossary for this course.

Did your list include anything about a fair distribution of resources or wealth? How might inequality relate to Greiner’s definition of development?

Were you thinking about Western countries as well when devising your list?

Figure 2 (Figure 16.4 from Dicken, 2011) clearly shows development problems exist within supposedly highly ‘developed’ countries, and Figure 3 (Figure 16.12 from Dicken, 2011) shows there are major inequalities emerging within rapidly developing countries such as China. Even here in New Zealand, income inequality is on the rise: the bottom 50% of the population had only 7% of the wealth in 2001, while the top 10% had 48% of the wealth (Easton, 2012).

While Western countries are conred ‘developed’, the unequal distribution of wealth and resources means that development does not bring ‘changes in economic prosperity and the quality of life’ to all. Keep this in mind as we move on to consider how we might measure development.

Figure 2: Counties within the USA with high levels of economic distress

Source: Dicken (2011), pp. 487


Figure 3: Income inequalities within China

Source: Dicken (2011), pp. 491

  1. Measuring Development

2a. Economic Measurements

Required reading

Reading 1: Greiner, 2014. Economic Indicators pp. 264–267

Reading 2: Todaro, M. & Smith, 2012. What do we mean by development:

Traditional economic measures pp. 14-16

Gross National Income / Gross Domestic Product

GNP and GNI have long been used as a measures of development. Indeed the first map we asked you to look at was based on GNI. Take careful note of Greiner’s and Todaro & Smith’s explanations and write out definitions of these terms (and add to your glossary).

GNI and GNP still used by economists and politicians, however as measures of development they have fallen out of favour. Reasons for this include:

· They do not include the value of subsistence goods (such as food) which people produce for themselves.

· They do not consider purchasing power; the same amount of money will buy different things in different countries.

Measuring development in terms of consumption

Some people have suggested that development should be measured in terms of consumption, rather than in terms of income or production. A ‘light-hearted’ example of this is the Big Mac index published annually by The Economist. This index is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity (PPP – see Reading 1, Greiner, p.267). Figure 4 is based on this data, and shows how many minutes it would take a minimum wage worker in various cities to earn enough money to buy a Big Mac.

List any problems you may foresee with this ways of measuring development:

One reason why these things may not be considered as good indicators of development is that they can be harmful for people. In 1979 Smith published a similar graphic showing the time taken to earn the price of a car and a packet of cigarettes. He noted that:

…cigarettes cause illness and death, which imposes costs on individual smokers and their families and also on the community that pays the price of medical care….Shortage of cars

may be a conventional indicator of underdevelopment, but part of the price of mobility they bring is death on the roads, environmental degradation and air pollution. (Smith,1979, p. 66)

Figure 4: Minutes of minimum wage work to buy a Big Mac

Poverty Lines

Another largely economic measure is poverty lines. These are usually set by governments and are therefore not particularly useful for between-country comparisons, although they may generate some useful data for the analysis of poverty within countries. The World Bank has however established two international poverty lines – the frequently quoted US$1.25/day and US$2/day lines. As Greiner (2014) notes, the number of people living in extreme poverty (less than US$1.25/day) has dropped significantly although, as we will see later in this module, this drop has been offset by a rise in inequality.

Look at the chart on page 268 of reading 1 (Greiner, 2014). Which regions have experienced the most change? In which regions has poverty levels not changed or become worse? What are some of the reasons for change?

2b. Social, demographic and environmental development indicators:

Required reading

Reading 1: Greiner, 2014. Socio-demographic Indicators, Environmental Indicators, Development and Gender-Related Indicators, Environment and Development pp.267–277

List the socio-economic, environmental and gender-related indexes identified by Greiner. Can you think of any others?

The Human Development Index (HDI) was created by Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq and the Indian economist Amartya Sen and adopted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 1990. It is a composite index which uses three indicators to compute a value between 0 and 1, which can be used as a relative measure of development. It is now one of the most often quoted measures of development.

What are the three indicators used to generate the HDI?

  1. ______________________________________________________

Compare the map of HDI on page 272 of Reading 1 (Greiner) with the map of GNI on page 265 of the same reading. What are the similarities and differences? Does anything surprise you?

2c. Alternative measures of development

Required reading

Reading 1. Greiner, 2014: Bhutan’s quest for gross national happiness


Reading 2. Todaro, M. & Smith, 2012: Amartya Sen’s “capability”

approach, Development and happiness, Three core values of development pp.


Reading 3. Thekaekara, 1999: Calvin Klein and the tea-pickers -all

Coates (1992) suggests that many geographers have biased people’s perceptions of the world by giving so much attention to patterns of consumption or production. For example, because people from certain countries produce less or consume less than those in the West, it has been suggested that their countries are underdeveloped or that the people are inferior.

Coates’ (1992, p. 11) alternative suggestions for how we could measure development include:

· Self-esteem

· Happiness or laughter

· Self-fulfilment

· Personal relationships

These suggestions are echoed by Sen and Goulet (In Reading 2: Todaro and Smith). Sen rejects the idea that poverty can be measured by income. Explain his alternative ‘capabilities’ approach to understanding poverty:

Also, take note of the way in which Sen defines development and his argument that development should be concerned with enhancing the freedoms we enjoy as this is an idea we will return to in our discussions of inequality next week.

Todaro discusses the ideas of Professor Goulet who argues that there are three core values of development:

a) Basic needs or life sustenance (food, shelter, health and protection).

b) Self-esteem (a sense of worth and self-respect, dignity, honour or recognition).

c) Freedom from servitude – to be able to choose (people should not be slaves to other people, to ignorance, to misery or to dogmatic beliefs). Freedom involves the expanded range of choices for societies and their members together with the minimisation of external constraints in the pursuit of development.

Did the ideas on development which you jotted down earlier in this module cover these three elements? Chances are that only basic needs were covered. It is important that you realise the significance of these other elements of development as well.

Another suggested measure of development is happiness, which is based on individual values. As such it is even more difficult to measure than freedom. To some people it is found in material possessions, while to others it may be more spiritual, or intangible, including trips to the countryside, relationships with people or a trip to see their favourite band. It can only be judged by individuals. The attraction and difficulty of measuring happiness is discussed by Todaro and Smith (p.19).

What are some of the factors that contribute to happiness? How might these be measured?

One measure of happiness in development is the Happy Planet Index which uses life expectancy (from UNDP data), life satisfaction (from the Gallup World Poll), and a nation’s ecological footprint (from WWF data) to give a score. The score is calculated as follows:

Figure 5: Happy Planet Index 2016: Top Ranked Countries


Compare the Happy Planet Index (figure 5 and online at ), with the maps of GNI, poverty and HDI in Greiner. What are the similarities and differences? Does anything surprise you?

Note that NZ ranked 29th in the 2016 Index. What does this tell us about development in NZ?

Despite the difficulties in measuring happiness the concept remains attractive, and now world leaders seem keen on following Bhutan’s lead in promoting ‘gross National Happiness’ (see Figure 6).

Figure 6: The Telegraph – Leaders want happy nations


Gross National Happiness is just one alternative measure of development proposed by academics over the years. Smith (1979, p. 77) suggests that as an alternative to production or consumption, we could measure security (e.g. from war, from domestic violence, from physical discomfort). Meanwhile, Sidaway (2002, p. 18) lists a number of ‘alternative visions’ of development, including ‘democracy, popular culture, resourcefulness and environmental impacts’, which, if considered as legitimate measures of development, ‘would transform the imagined map of more or less developed countries’. He also makes the important point that our discussions of poverty and destitution too often overlook how these problems are manifested in Western contexts, while the overconsumption habits of Westerners are also conveniently ignored.

All of the measurements have one thing in common. They are designed by outside experts, academics and leaders. In Reading 3 Thekaekara highlights a different perspective – that of the ‘subjects’ of development.

What does ‘wealth’ mean to the Indian tribal people discussed in this article?

How do they see themselves as ‘better off’ than some people in Western Countries?

  1. Optional Activities

Hire out the video ‘City of Joy’ (NB. This is quite old now and there is only one copy in the Massey library, so you may need to source it through an on-line store).

‘City of Joy’ provides excellent insights into the lives of Third World peoples. It centres around the lives of a poor rural family who lose their farm to money-lenders after two years of no rain. They decide to move to Calcutta. They end up living in a squatter settlement known as the ‘City of Joy’. This video exposes the desperate poverty faced by many people in this world but it also shows that some of their basic concerns are similar to those of you and I: to provide a home and food for their families, to send their children to school and to be healthy.

Alternatively, watch the more recent Academy Award winner ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ which raises some similar themes.

While you watch ‘City of Joy’ or ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, try to answer the following questions:

How/by whom are the poor exploited?

What work options are there for rural families who come to the city and does age or gender make a difference?

How does the system of dowry perpetuate the poverty of the poor in India?

What was stopping many of the poor from standing up to their oppressors?

Week 2: Readings and Activities

  1. What is inequality?

1a. Definitions of inequality

What do you think ‘’inequality’ means? List your ideas below:

Required reading

Read page 277-282 of Reading 1 (Greiner, 2014): Development and Income Inequality

What is Greiner’s definition of inequality? How does this relate to the list you wrote?

You might have noticed that this section of the reading from Greiner focuses on income inequality. While most discussions do focus on income this is just one aspect of inequality. Look back at the discussion on measuring development from last week. What other aspects of inequality are highlighted by different measures of development?

Read the following quote from Crow and Lodha (2011):

The goal of equality expresses the idea that each person should have comparable freedoms across a range of dimensions. Inequalities are, then, constraints that hinder accomplishment of these freedoms. There is debate about which dimensions of freedom should be prioritized. At the same time, however, there is substantial global common ground that deprivations below a range of achievements constitute unacceptable inequality. This common ground is formulated, most obviously, in the Millennium Development Goals2, but also in the Universal declaration of Human Rights (1948), and in the constitutions of many nations.

Another way of answering the question “What is inequality?” comes from sociologist Göran Therborn (2006:4): inequalities are differences we consider unjust. Humans are diverse, and social conditions across the planet vary, but they are raised to the level of injustice – an inequality – when they violate a moral norm and when, as Therborn puts it, the inequality is capable of being changed (2009:20). When 2 percent of adults possess more than half of all global wealth, when one child in seven dies before the age of five in Sub-Saharan Africa, when

2 Optional: For more information on the Millennium Development Goals, see Reading 1, Greiner: pp.287-288).

one in five girl children is allowed to die young, or is selectively aborted, as happens in China, many consider that unjust. (Crow & Lodha, 2011, p. 9)

Did your list include anything about freedom or justice?

Keep these definitions of inequality, as constraints that hinder the accomplishment of freedoms and as differences we consider unjust, in mind as you continue through the course. How do class, ethnic and gender differences constrain freedoms? Why are these differences unjust?

1b. Causes of Inequality

Therborn (in Crow & Lodha, 2011, p. 9) suggest four key causes for inequality:

i. Exploitation: the extraction of value by a superior group from an inferior group,for example, employers using low-paid labor.

ii. Exclusion: discrimination by one group excluding another, for example, racism.

iii. Distantiation: economic mechanisms, such as the bonus culture, for example thatresult in a widening distance between low-ranking employees and executives, countries that are not industrializing and those that are.

iv. Hierarchy: advantages within formal organizations, such as rank within anadministration, corporation, or army.

You might note that some of these are related to an individual’s skill or luck (such as advancement up a workplace hierarchy), while others are the result of their geographical location, class, ethnicity or gender. They can also operate at any scale, from an individual or face-to-face level to international levels.

  1. Analysing Inequality

As noted at the beginning of last week’s topic, inequality is often discussed in terms of income, however the social divisions that social scientists believe exert the greatest influence and carry the most explanatory power are those associated with class, gender and ethnicity. These divisions shape societies, determining how wealth, opportunities, resources (material and cultural) and life chances are distributed between different groups

in society. We will be examining these divisions throughout the remainder of the course, however before we do so it is important to look more closely at how inequality is analysed and measured.

Perhaps the simplest way to measure inequality is to simply compare indicators – such as the development measures we discussed in the previous topic (something you have already been doing when looking at the maps in the readings). For example, the map of infant mortality in Greiner (p.270), tells us a lot about disease, malnourishment and access to child and maternal health care particularly when, as suggested by Greiner, it is compared with a map of GNI (Greiner, p.265). However there are also some measures used specifically to analyse inequality, including economic measurements (such as the Gini coefficient) and the Gender equality index.

2a. Measuring inequality

As inequality can be defined at various scales, it is also measured at different scales. Look at the map of Africa on page 271 of Greiner (Reading 1). This shows the percentage of households with piped water. There is clearly enormous differences at the continental scale. What does this tell us about inequality on the African continent?

Now compare this with Figure 6 below (from Crow & Lodha, 2011, p.

56) which shows the percentage of piped connections in rural areas globally, and with Figure 7 which shows the percentage of the population using ‘improved water and sanitation’ within the Sudan.

What does each map highlight? What is obscured? How do you think you could account for the differences between and within nations? Think about economic and politicalsystems, historical factors, conflict (the effects of this are particularly evident in the Sudan map) etc.

Figure 6: Percentage of rural households with piped water supply (2006)

Source: Crow & Lodha, 2011, p.56
Figure 2: Water and sanitation in the Sudan

Source: com/news/world-africa-12115013“>, based on figures from the Sudan Household

Health Survey, 2006 (

Optional: Another way to look at this is illustrated in the UNEP Global Water Supply andSanitation Assessment 2000 report (click here 3 ), which compares urban and rural water and sanitation. What does this tell us about inequalities within Africa?


2b. The Gini Coeffecient

Measurements such as the piped water percentages discussed above, and other measurements of development (discussed last week), can also help us measure and understand inequality. Geographers and development practitioners use these figures, maps and graphs to understand differences between and within nations. However there are also some specific measurements of inequality, the most common of which is the Gini coefficient.

Review the graph of the Lorenz curves and the map of the Gini coefficient in Reading 1 (Greiner, 2014, pp. 280–281).

The Gini coefficient is a number between 0 and 1 and is based on net income. In this measurement 0 represents perfect equality and 1 represents perfect inequality. It is computed from the difference between the line of equal income and a country’s Lorenze curve (explained on page 280, Reading 1, Greiner, 2014).

Note that while the Gini coefficient is a very useful tool to highlight inequality it is an economic measure based on income only. As such it can obscure other aspects of inequality such as class, ethnicity and gender. Indeed, a wealthy country and a poor country can have the same Gini coefficient, as it only measures the distance between the highest and lowest incomes. Being based on income, rather than wealth (which would include property and capital investments), the Gini coefficient can also obscure the true scope of inequality.

Compare the map of the Gini coefficient in Reading 1 (Greiner, 2014, p.

281) with the Happy Planet Index maps, the maps of GNI, poverty and HDI in the same reading. What are the similarities and differences? Does anything surprise you?

Optional: Watchthis video 4 whichexplains the problems withmeasuring inequality in New Zealand (and gives a basic overview of Gini coefficient and consumption-based measurements of inequality).

2c. Inequality and Freedom

To help move beyond economic analyses of inequality, it is useful to look again at the definitions of inequality given by Therborn. Reading these, you might have made a connection with the discussion of Amartya Sen’s approach to development discussed last week. For Sen, development is about functionings and freedoms, the things people want to do and be:

Functionings: desired individual outcomes such as a long life or being nourished.

Freedoms: a broad set, including political freedoms, economic facilities, socialopportunities, transparency guarantees and protective security.

(Sen, in Crow and Lodha, 2011:10)

Sen therefore describes inequalities in relation to the ability of people to live lives they value (Crow & Lodha, 2011, p. 10). While this approach does not directly give us with a set of tools with which to measure development it does provide a nuanced analysis of development and inequality, and his work has provided new ways of thinking about progress and development and has spurred global debate and new measurements of social progress.

In particular, Sen’s work contributed to the development of the multi-dimensional HDI. Have another look at the HDI map on page 272 of Reading 1 (Greiner) and the discussion of HDI on the same page. How do the HDI and the Human Development Reports reflect Sen’s capabilities approach? What can we learn from these about the freedoms people enjoy in different nations?


  1. Inequality in New Zealand

Required reading

Reading 4. Rashbrooke, 2013: Why Inequality Matters

This is the first chapter of the book Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis, edited by Max Rashbrooke, which was released last year, sparking considerable debate within the New Zealand media. While this course takes a global view of inequality and development, the New Zealand context provides an interesting example of the impact of inequality and illustrates some of the ideas we have discussed this far.

Why does Rashbrooke think inequality – rather than poverty – is a major concern in New Zealand?

Think about the example of the Eastern Porirua that Rashbrooke describes on page 1. Have you come across these ‘disconnected worlds’ in your neighbourhood / town / city? What might be the impact of this type of disconnection?

This disconnection can also be visualized at a national level. In May 2014 the New Zealand Deprivation index was released, which draws on data from the 2013 census. The deprivation index is a multi-dimensional tool, taking into account communication (internet at home), income, employment, qualifications, home ownership and other indicators. Figure 8 maps the distribution of deprivation in NZ using this index

Optional: The NZ Herald turned this into an interactive map of deprivation in NewZealand. Use this online map 5 to explore the distribution in more depth.

What does this map tell you about the distribution of inequality in New Zealand?


Figure 3: Distribution of deprivation in New Zealand

Source: Atkinson, Salmond & Crampton (2014)

You might have been interested to note the inclusion of internet access in th indicators that were used in the deprivation index. Think about this in relatio to Rashbrooke’s discussion on pages 7-8 “Why Inequality – Not jus Poverty”. In particular consider his arguments regarding participation in an contributions to society. How might inequality – as evidenced by a lack o access to the Internet – affect people’s functionings and freedoms in New Zealand?

Note, once again, that Rashbrooke’s focus is on income inequality. His justification of this (p.3) clearly explains the reasons why income is so often used as a key indicator for inequality however you should also be able to pick up references to class, gender and ethnic inequalities throughout the chapter (ethnic inequalities are particularly problematic in New Zealand, something we will discuss further in the ethnicity module). As we work through the modules on class, ethnicity and gender it is worth thinking about the relationship between income and these other aspects of inequality. To what extent is income both a cause and a consequence of other types of inequality? For example, how does income affect class inequalities? What impact does class have on earning potential?

  1. Optional Activities

Read page 282-290 of Reading 1 (Greiner, 2014): Development Theory

This section of Greiner’s chapter gives a brief overview of the major theories of development. It provides some theoretical background to the discussion on development and inequality in this module, as well as an introduction to some ideas we will cover later in the course (in particular structural adjustment and the

MDGs). It will also be particularly useful for (and/or familiar to) any students taking Development Studies papers!

The development theories discussed here can be loosely grouped into three approaches:

· Capitalist models: the classical model & neo-liberalism

· Neo-Marxist models: dependency and world system theories

· Alternative models: Poverty reduction approaches (amongst others).

Using this section of Greiner compare the key features of capitalist models, Neo-Marxist models, and alternative models.

Causes of poverty and inequality:

Capitalist models ________________________________________

Neo-Marxist models _____________________________________

Alternative models ______________________________________

Model of development (how to alleviate poverty / inequality):

Capitalist models ________________________________________

Neo-Marxist models _____________________________________

Alternative models ______________________________________


By now you will see that development means much more than a country’s output, its consumption or material wealth alone. There are social, cultural and political dimensions to development and often it is the intangibles, such as self-esteem and happiness, which may say more about the development of a people than economic measures of well-being. Development has a complex and cross-cutting array of dimensions.

Development theories and measurements have changed dramatically in the past fifty years. Many have, however, continued to focus on macro-economic improvements as an indicator of a country’s development. Such indicators say little about the distribution of income within a country or such values as freedom of speech or equal rights for women and ethnic minorities. Over the past few decades this has led to the emergence of a range of new measures for development, and has stimulated much discussion on what development is, from freedom, to happiness, to individual community and personal priorities.

However, while we have improved our ability to measure development, and significant progress has been made towards poverty reduction in many places worldwide, recent years have also seen the rise of inequalities globally. Inequality has a significant negative effect on development within countries (Easterly, 2007), and contributes to a range of different health and social problems including poor physical and mental health, drug abuse, poor education, imprisonment, a lack of trust and community life and violence (Pickett & Wilkinson, 2010). The negative outcomes associated with inequality were highlighted by Rashbrooke (2013, p. 7) who quotes British Sociologist, Ruth Lister, describing poverty as ‘a shameful and corrosive social relation’ which includes not only financial hardship, but also ‘a lack of voice, disrespect,… powerlessness, denial of rights and diminished citizenship’. As such, inequality is clearly a threat to development, particularly if our understanding of development encompasses health and education, self-esteem, freedom or happiness. These links between development and inequality will be explored throughout the remainder of this course, which examines the lack of voice, disrespect and denial of rights experienced by millions worldwide because of their ethnicity, class or gender.

Before moving on to the next module however, it is worth refocusing our attention on those most disadvantaged. As Brohman (1995) asserts, the domination of Third World countries by Eurocentric theories and strategies of development has arrested, or deterred, indigenous development:

…little attention is afforded to the views, desires and ambitions of Third World peoples themselves, particularly if they are from traditionally disadvantaged and marginalised social groups (e.g. the lower classes, the peasantry, women, ethnic minorities) (Brohman,1995, p. 128)

Friedmann, one of a number of theorists who have rejected the Eurocentric and global nature of the ‘grand development theories’ of the past, takes a novel approach to development theory. He takes as his focus marginalised peoples of the world and how they can become active at the local level to empower themselves. He realises, however, that it is not sufficient to simply focus on the local level because ‘…local action is severely constrained by global economic forces, structures of unequal wealth, and hostile class alliances. Unless these are changed as well, alternative development can never be more than a holding action to keep the poor from even greater misery and to deter the further devastation of nature’ (Friedman, 1992, p. viii)

Friedmann accepts that the system of global accumulation which dominates economies is a fact, but he seeks to humanize this system. He feels this can be done through forms of everyday resistance and political struggle that argues for the rights of all citizens, many of whom have been totally excluded from decision making power and from any benefits which integration into the global economic system may have brought (Friedman, 1992, p. 13).

After completing this module and perhaps watching ‘City of Joy’ or ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ you should also understand more about the complexity of development problems around the world: of urbanisation, class exploitation, and the daily struggle to survive faced by millions of people. Don’t let this get you down: remember, the philosophy behind this course is that ‘…understanding global inequalities is a key stage in the process of overcoming them’ (Taylor, 1992, p. 20).


A glossary is included at the end of each topic and is intended for your own use. Whenever you come across an unfamiliar word or term either in the readings or study guide, jot it down here and find a definition for it. While every effort is made to use simple language in the study guide, it is also natural that when studying a specialist subject you will have to be prepared to expand your vocabulary. Using this glossary should enhance your understanding of the material covered.

Unfamiliar words Definitions

and terms

Note: The Stream site for this course has an excellent Glossary that might helpyou.


Atkinson, J., Salmond, C., & Crampton, P. (2014). NZDep2013 Index of Deprivation.

Wellington, NZ.

Brohman, J. (1995). Universalism, Eurocentrism, and ideological bias in development studies: from modernisation to neoliberalism. Third World Quarterly, 16(1), 121–140.

Coates, B. E. (1992). Our unequal world. Geography, 77(1), 1–11.

Crow, B., & Lodha, S. K. (2011). The Atlas of Global Inequalities. University of California Press.

Dicken, P. (2011). Global Shift (6th ed.). London: Sage.

Easterly, W. (2007). Inequality does cause underdevelopment: Insights from a new instrument. Journal of Development Economics, 84(2), 755–776. doi:10.1016/j.jdeveco.2006.11.002

Easton, B. (2012). Income and wealth distribution. Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved June 05, 2014, from

Fickling, D. (2004). World Bank Condemns Defence Spending. The Guardian.

Friedman, J. T. (1992). Empowerment: The Politics of Alternative Development (p. 208).

Cambridge: Wiley-Blackwell.

Greiner, A. (2014). Visualizing Human Geography: At Home in a Diverse World.

Danvers, MA.: Wiley.

Kornbluth, J. (2013). Inequality for All. RADiUS-TWC.

Open University. (1991). Society and Social Science: A Foundation Course – Block Two, Social Structures and Divisions. Milton Keynes.

Pickett, K., & Wilkinson, R. (2010). The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Piketty, T. (2014). Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Harvard University Press.

Rashbrooke, M. (2013). Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis. Bridget Williams Books.

Sidaway, J. D. (2002). Post-Development. In V. Desai & R. B. Potter (Eds.), The Companion to Development Studies. London: Arnold.

Smith, D. M. (1979). Inequality among nations. In Where the grass is greener: living

in an unequal world (pp. 52–103). London: Penguin.

Taylor, P. (1992). Understanding global inequalities. Geography, 77(11), 10–21.

Thekaekara, M. M. (1999). Calvin Klein and the Tea Pickers. New Internationalist, March, 12–15.

Therborn, G. (2006). Inequalities of the World: New Thoeretical Frameworks, Multiple

Empirical Approaches. London: Verso.

Todaro, M. & Smith, S. (2012). What do we mean by development? In Economic Development (pp. 14–23). Pearson Education Ltd.

Wade, R. H. (2004). Is globalization reducing poverty and inequality? World Development, 32(4), 567–589.

World Economic Forum. (2014). Global Risks 2014. Geneva.

Background reading 6

Bodley, J. H. (2008). Anthropology and Contemporary Human Problems AltaMiraPress, Lantham.

Brazier, C. (1997). State of the World Report. New Internationalist, January/February: 4-9.

Brohman, J. (1996). Popular Development: Rethinking the theory and practice of development. Blackwell, Cambridge, Mass.

Corbridge, S.







5 (2): 15-18.

Crush, J. (1995). Power of Development. Routledge, London.

Desai, V., & Potter, R. B. (eds) (2008). The Companion to Development Studies.

London, Arnold.

Escobar, A. (1995). Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World. Princeton University Press, New Jersey.


Held, D. and Kaya, A. (2007). Global Inequality: Patterns and Explanations. Polity, Cambridge.

Jomo, K. S. with Baudot, J. (2007). Flat World, Big Gaps: Economic Liberalization, Globalization, Poverty and Inequality. Zed, London.

Kohl, R. (2003). Globalisation, Poverty and Inequality. OECD, Paris.

Murray, W.E. (2006). Geographies of Globalisation . Routledge, London.

Potter, R.B., Binns, T., Elliot, J.A. & Smith, D. (2008) Chapter 1: Questioning Development. In Geographies of Development: An introduction to Development Studies. Pearson Education, Harlow.

Potter, R.B., Binns, T., Elliot, J.A. & Smith, D. (2008) Chapter 4: Globalisation, development and underdevelopment. In Geographies of Development: An introduction to Development Studies. Pearson Education, Harlow.

Rahnema, M. and Bawtree, V. (eds) (1997). The Post-Development Reader. Zed,London.

Richardson-Ngwenya, P. (2010). The EU sugar reform and the responses of Caribbean sugar producers. Geography 95 (2): 70-79.

NB: World Development journal, Volume 38 (6) 2010, is a special issue
containing nine papers on ‘Globalization, Poverty and Inequality in Latin
Icons in this study guide are by Christian Burprich: (Creative Commons licence)

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