Unit 1: Connecting global and local issues

Activity 4: Economic (in)equality: Wealth and resources

Estimated time: 30 minutes

Learning Objectives

  • To raise awareness of global poverty.
  • To consider taking action on global issues.

Resources needed

  • Internet access.

Exercise 1: Economic equality

Economic equality is a very complex topic. Achieving it has never been easy but it is important to keep trying. Welthungerhilfe.org (2021) reports on the terrifying consequences of economic inequality stating that, “every 13 seconds, a child dies from the effects of hunger, up to 811 million people are going hungry, more than 2 billion suffer from malnutrition, but there is enough food, knowledge and resources for all” (para. 1). At the same time, WHO (2021) reveals that every year, about 2.8 million people predominantly from high-income countries, die from health conditions caused by obesity. These two extreme causes of shortened life spans are caused by problems that reflect issues of economic inequalities and the distorted global distribution of resources.


This video from “Crash Course” offers helpful insights into issues of economic inequality looking at issues globally as well as focusing on within country inequalities concentrating on the situation of the United States.

After watching the video, please reflect on and answer the following questions:

To what extent is there financial inequality in your own country and what are some contributory factors?
How does your country stand in terms of global distribution of wealth?

If you are unsure about the data, you can check your country’s position in the following websites https://stats.oecd.org/ or https://slides.ourworldindata.org/#/title-slide.

Exercise 2: Consequences of economic inequality

In this exercise we will read an article entitled “Inequality strikes at our health and happiness”. The article is based on an interview with Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson, who authored a book about the effects of inequality on societies across the world entitled “The Spirit Level”. The author of the article argues that “social injustice has a profound psychological impact – and it’s tearing our society apart” (Foster, 2018, para. 1). The article discusses how inequality affects people’s life at the very core and it “affects our intimate lives, our inner lives; our mental wellbeing, our relationships with friends and family” (para. 2). Now please read this article entitled Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson: ‘Inequality strikes at our health and happiness’ before you continue.

Having read the article, you might have learnt that the author also mentions that inequality could generally be responsible for a ‘less fulfilling’ life as well as issues with fundamental aspects of lives within communities such as public health, education, safety, and life expectancy, which are all related to our sense of wellbeing.


Please reflect on the following and answer the questions:

To what extent do you think that economic equality or inequality in your country affects your sense of wellbeing?
Do you think that your students’ sense of wellbeing is related to economic equality or inequality in your country?

In this exercise, we will also focus on how poverty might impact children. As mentioned in the previous article (Foster, 2018), the stress of poverty has consequences on children. Oftentimes, poverty impacts children very hard as some of the most vulnerable members of society. Griggs and Walker (2008) published a comprehensive report entitled “Costs of child poverty for individuals and society”, which shows effects of poverty for children in terms of education, health, and future employment, among others.

Click the following buttons to learn about the topic based on the report:

If you wish to learn more about Griggs and Walker’s work, please read the full report.

Exercise 3: Richard and Paula in your school?

Please read the graphic story “On a Plate: A short story about privilege”.

Then complete the table below by reflecting on the differences in the lives of Richard and Paula based on the graphic story.

RichardPoints to analysePaula
Living conditions
Family support
Social status

Now please take some time to reflect on these questions.

To what extent do Richard and Paula have equal opportunities?
To what extent does someone like Richard hold a responsibility for the life of someone like Paula?
What could the government do to improve the opportunities for children like Paula?
As a teacher, what could I do to help a student like Paula? Share your thoughts in the following box and, if you wish, read reflections of other educators.

Activity completed!

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