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Wednesday, 18 July, 2001, 13:57 GMT 14:57 UK
World inequality
Against the backdrop of anti-globalisation protests at the G8 summit in Genoa, BBC News Online examines the facts about the world economy and the gap between rich and poor.

Global poverty is concentrated in South Asia, where half of the world's poor live. Another quarter live in sub-Saharan Africa, while one quarter live in East Asia, mainly China.

But as a proportion of the population, there are more people in poverty in Africa than anywhere else.

World inequality between households has increased, according to the latest studies.

The income of the richest 1% (50m people) is the same as the income of the poorest 60% (2.7bn people).

And the all the gains in world income in the middle of the last decade went to the richest 20%, while the inomc of those a the bottom actually declined.

Poverty has declined dramatically in East Asia, particularly in China, where an open economy has boosted living standards.

But in the past decade poverty has been rising in Africa, in South Asia, and most dramatically in Eastern Europe, where the transition from communism has caused poverty rates to sky-rocket.

There is a huge gap between rich and poor countries across a range of health measures.

Looking at infant mortality, the number of children who die around the time of childbirth is twenty times higher in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia than in the rich industrial countries.

Investment in education is seen as the key to improving human capital and building the capacity for future economic development.

But in many poor countries, only half of the children of secondary school age are enrolled in education, and many have functional illiteracy rates of nearly one-third.

The internet has the power to spread information rapidly between continents and between rich and poor countries.

But so far, there is a wide digital divide - with 163 internet host sites per 1000 people in the United States, compared to only 0.31 internet host sites in Africa.

Computer ownership and internet use are also skewed towards the rich industrial countries - although Latin America and East Asia are catching up.

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