What Governments Do 8

Some governments seek to reduce the number of people living in poverty and the degree of inequality within their populations. They typically do this by trying to accelerate growth (China, India), by enacting regulations to protect workers from predation (Norway, Denmark, and Iceland stand out),[1] by requiring universal health care (62 countries in 2018)[2] and universal secondary education (most governments succeed on this one:  laggards include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Laos, Pakistan, and much of Africa),[3] through fiscal transfers to households (most of Europe), and by using progressive taxation (Australia, Denmark, and Belgium).[4]

  • Click here for country rankings of policies meant to reduce inequality (Oxfam, 2018).
  • Click here for a review of fiscal policy options for reducing poverty (IMF).

Excerpted from What Should Governments Do for Us?

Image: Los Angeles Times.

[1] Oxfam (2018). The commitment to reducing inequality index. https://www.oxfamamerica.org/static/media/files/The_Commitment_to_Reducing_Inequality_Index_2018.pdf

[2] See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_with_universal_health_care

[3] UNICEF data.

[4] Oxfam (2018).

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