September 16, 2019

Income Inequality

ECOSOC: United Nations Development Programme

Topic: Income Inequality

This topic is centered around measures to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10, reducing inequalities, specifically income inequality. The SDGs are a broad set of goals that are measured by specific targets which the UN member states aspire to attain by 2030. Among the targets of SDG 10, the most relevant will be progressively achieving and sustaining income growth of the bottom 40 per cent of the population at a rate higher than the national average; ensuring equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, and adopting policies, especially fiscal, wage and social protection policies; and progressively achieve greater equality. Prior to the global COVID-19 crisis income inequality within countries was becoming worse, a trend that the pandemic exacerbated.

Rising inequality worsens economic and social mobility, discourages young and marginalized populations, and depresses economic growth. The degree of income inequality in a country is represented by the Gini Coefficient, in which inequality is calculated through a comparison of the cumulative proportions of the population against cumulative proportions of income they receive. Zero represents perfect equality and one represents perfect inequality.

Inequalities within countries are not just the result of individual disparities, but are the consequences of policies that have created gaps in equity across regions, age, gender, race, ethnicity, migrant status, and disability status. Countries must grapple with past legislation that has codified prejudices, or societal traditions that produced the same effect. Income inequality can be tackled in a number of ways, from education policy, to labor rights, to market regulation, to tax codes.

There are also other barriers to raising the incomes of the bottom 40% of the population. Lack of education inhibits professional growth. The balance of labor rights, (including job securities, wage floors, and union protections) with free market practices can determine the incomes and employment status of workers. Market regulations and taxation schemes also affect the distribution of incomes. It will be up to the committee to come up with innovative solutions to address the social, economic, and historical causes of inequality.

Useful Links:

Sustainable Development Goal 10:

World Bank Income Distribution and Consumption:

UNDP Development Futures Series:

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