Jason Hickel

Global inequality is much worse than we thought

It’s familiar news by now. According to Oxfam, the richest 1% now have more wealth than the rest of the world’s population combined. Global inequality is worse than at any time since the 19th century. For most people, this is all they know about global inequality. But Oxfam’s wealth figures don’t quite tell the whole…

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We need to break the one sacred rule of the global economy

Scholars are still trying to figure out why the society on Easter Island collapsed, ending the people famed for their construction of towering stone heads. One interesting theory holds that it had to do with the heads themselves. Somehow, the islanders decided that the giant heads represented power and success, so different groups competed to…

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How the west destroyed the global south’s best shot at development

When it comes to international affairs, western politicians love to celebrate their devotion to development. In her flagship speech on development as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton offered stories about US aid transforming the lives of poor people in Indonesia, Nicaragua and South Africa. France’s minister of foreign affairs recently hailed his country’s commitment to…

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Is climate change a form of violence?

Over the past few years a number of studies have warned about the links between climate change and violent conflict. While the precise causal connections are not yet well-defined, it is likely that famine, flooding, and displacement will spur increasing conflict and war as the 21st century unfolds. This is a serious concern. Already the…

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Enough of aid – let’s talk reparations

Colonialism is one of those things you’re not supposed to discuss in polite company — at least not north of the Mediterranean. Most people feel uncomfortable about it, and would rather pretend it didn’t happen. In fact, that appears to be the official position. In the mainstream narrative of international development peddled by institutions like…

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Global poverty is worse than you think

A few weeks ago the World Bank changed the international poverty line from $1.25 to $1.90 (R27) a day. Normally, changes to the poverty line slide by without attracting much attention, but for some reason this time people got excited. At first glance, it looks as if the bank has finally admitted that the old…

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Forget ‘developing’ poor countries. It’s time to ‘de-develop’ rich countries

Heads of state recently gathered in New York to sign the UN’s new sustainable development goals (SDGs). The main objective is to eradicate poverty by 2030. Beyoncé, One Direction and Malala are on board. It’s set to be a monumental international celebration. Given all the fanfare, one might think the SDGs are about to offer…

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Why the new sustainable development goals won’t make the world a better place

The world’s governments are preparing to finalise the sustainable development goals at the United Nations this month. It is set to be a major international event, and the goals will be ushered in with tremendous fanfare. They are widely regarded as a historic step toward building a better world, and toward eradicating poverty and hunger…

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The UN is hiding the true extent of global hunger

As the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire, the United Nations and the international NGO community are rallying around the conclusion that this has been “the most successful anti-poverty movement in history”. Poverty has been cut in half, they tell us. And hunger has taken a serious hit, falling narrowly shy of the target. It’s a…

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The microfinance delusion: who really wins?

I’m always amazed at how many students show up each year in the classrooms of the London School of Economics, where I teach, quivering with excitement about microfinance and other “bottom-of-the-pyramid” development strategies. Like eager young missionaries, they feel they’ve stumbled upon the One Idea that is sure to save the world. Would that it…

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