One of the Mega-Trends that The Scriptorium Company has been calling attention to for a long time is growing inequality and its impact on the behaviour of populations / consumers. Inequality leads to a feeling of injustice (especially in Europe), it destabilizes the social fabric (China is a prime example) and highlights the increasing polarization of the market (towards low-cost and "überpremium"). A study by the OECD published this month has just reinforced this analysis: "Divided We Stand. Why Inequalities Keep Rising" (the full report is available here).
The results of this study are crucial to understand recent developments all over the world:
In all OECD countries, the incomes of the richest 10% are today nine times higher than the incomes of the poorest 10%. But what is most interesting is the analysis of the change over the last 30 years:
- Inequality started to increase in the Anglo-Saxon countries: "It first started to increase in the late 1970s and early 1980s in some English-speaking countries, notably the United Kingdom and the United States, but also in Israel".
- It then spread across the world: "From the late 1980s, the increase in income inequality became more widespread".
- But since the 2000s it has spread to the "egalitarian" countries of Europe: "The latest trends in the 2000s showed a widening gap between rich and poor not only in some of the already high-inequality countries like Israel and the United States, but also – for the first time – in traditionally low-inequality countries, such as Germany, Denmark, and Sweden (and other Nordic countries), where inequality grew more than anywhere else in the 2000s".
- the feeling of having "no future" is growing among the younger generation - this contributing to an escalation in violence.
- many segments of the population - especially suburban - feel excluded from the benefits of globalization and reject it as being the source of their exclusion.
- the increase in the number of protestations - such as the movements by dissenters in many countries - reflects the sense of injustice towards the "victors" (those whose incomes have risen sharply).
- the increase in the number of revolts and revolutions that marked the year 2011 also attests to the disparities in these countries which also are highly inequitable.
The OECD report asserts that the year 2012 will be a year filled with perils when various forms of social flare-ups will run shoulder to shoulder with the most unexpected upheavals.