Can you imagine a world where a quarter of young people are not working or studying? Where only 1 in 20 executive board members are women? Where 1% of a population earns more in a day than 90% earn in a year? Unfortunately, you don’t need to imagine. We live here already.

The Economist (2013) showed that a quarter young people aged from 15-24 are not working or studying, Gov.uk reported that only 5.5% of executive directors in the FTSE 100 index (Financial Times Stock Exchange, the index of the top 100 earning companies on the London Stock Exchange) are female, and Stiglitz (2012) found that the top 0.1% earners in America receive in only 12 hours what the bottom 90% receive in an entire year.

The global division of labour is incredibly skewed against many different groups of people. O’Brien (2013) noted that speaking on a global scale, women have “a much greater chance of being poorer, working harder and under worse conditions than a man”.

While studies show that women in the same job as a man receive less money (The Independent, 2013), there is also a division on the type of work that women populate. “Women’s work” primarily consists of caring, leisure and secretarial duties, where they dominate more than three quarters of the total employed (The Guardian, 2013). Watson (2005) said that the simple fact that women also have a reproductive role in society constrains their ability to participate fully in the economy – although it is controversial to assume this is the only reason why they are discriminated against.

This gap in fairness also applies beyond women – there is ethnic discrimination, which varies between countries. In 2013 in the UK, there was a total unemployment rate of 8% from the ages of 16 and over who are economically active. The table below from the House of Commons (2014) breaks down that figure by ethnicity.

House of Commons - 2014
House of Commons – 2014

As the table shows, if you are not white and live in the UK, you are almost twice as likely to be unemployed. This huge disparity is a product of treating people differently simply due to ethnic background, but is not limited to just inequality toward employment.

Adams (2014) reported on a study which found that undergraduates who entered university with similar grades left with different classed degrees – in favour of white people. It was found that 72% of white students who had the grades of BBB at A-level attained a first or upper-second class degree, compared with 56% for Asian students and 53% of black students.

In addition, a report by the London School of Economics (2014) found that most ethnic groups were significantly less likely to receive an offer from a university when compared with white applicants. This shows that not only are ethnic groups less likely to receive a degree, they are also more likely to have a lower class degree. This divide only widens the gap in equality concerning labour.

Faced with the facts, it is simple to see that there are many groups from both developed and developing countries which struggle to find employment due to negative perceptions of their race, gender, or many other factors. This discrimination may or may not be intentional, but in any case, the only true way to eradicate this gap is to educate people globally that everyone deserves a fair chance regardless of their differences. Otherwise, the distance will only grow.

Maria Homolova


Adams, R., 2013. ‘White students get better degrees than minority peers with same entry grades’. The Guardian, [online] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/mar/28/white-students-better-degrees-minorities-same-grades-universities [Accessed 29 November 2014]

Brown, J., 2013. ‘Graduate pay gap: Same degrees. Same jobs. But, for women, still not the same pay’. The Independent, [online] Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/graduate-pay-gap-same-degrees-same-jobs-but-for-women-still-not-the-same-pay-8523471.html [Accessed 29 November 2014]

Davies, E., 2011. Women on Boards. [pdf] London: Gov.uk. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/31480/11-745-women-on-boards.pdf [Accessed 29 November 2014].

House of Commons, 2014. Unemployment by ethnic background. [pdf] London: House of Commons. Available at: http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/research/briefing-papers/SN06385/unemployment-by-ethnic-background [Accessed 29 November 2014].

Noden, P., Shiner, M. and Modood T., 2014. ‘Black and Minority Ethnic Access to Higher Education A Reassessment’. The London School of Economics, [online] Available at: http://www.lse.ac.uk/newsAndMedia/PDF/NuffieldBriefing.pdf [Accessed 29 November 2014]

O’Brien, R., 2013. ‘Global Political Economy: Evolution and Dynamics’. Palgrave Macmillan: London.

Stiglitz, J., 2012. ‘The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future’. Norton & Company: New York.

Stewart, H., 2013. ‘UK women remain concentrated in lower-paid work, figures show’. The Guardian, [online] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/sep/25/uk-women-lower-paid-work-figures [Accessed 29 November 2014]

The Economist, 2013.  ‘Generation jobless’. The Economist, [online] Available at: http://www.economist.com/news/international/21576657-around-world-almost-300m-15-24-year-olds-are-not-working-what-has-caused [Accessed 29 November 2014].

Watson, M., 2005. ‘Foundations of International Political Economy’. Palgrave Macmillan: London.

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