Social inequality

The social inequality , also called economic inequality, is a social problem present in all countries of the world.

It stems mainly from the poor distribution of income and the lack of investment in the social area, such as education and health.

In this way, the majority of the population is at the mercy of a minority that owns the resources, which generates inequalities.


Social inequality is the economic difference that exists between certain groups of people within the same society.

This becomes a problem for a region or country when the gaps between rents are very large giving rise to strong disparities.

In theory, there will always be social inequality, as it is impossible for everyone to have exactly the same quantities of material goods.


There are countless causes that widen the gap between rich and poor. The most common are:

  • Bad income distribution
  • Poor management of resources
  • Logic of accumulation of the capitalist market (consumption, surplus value)
  • Lack of investment in social, cultural, health and education areas
  • Lack of job opportunities
  • Corruption


If a country fails to meet the basic needs of a large part of its citizens, neither will it prosper in an equitable manner.

One of the most serious consequences is poverty, misery and slums. Furthermore, social inequality brings:

  • Hunger, malnutrition and infant mortality,
  • Increase in unemployment rates
  • Big differences between social classes
  • Marginalization of part of society
  • Delay in the progress of the country’s economy
  • Increased rates of violence and crime

Social Inequality in Brazil

Aerial view of the city of Belo Horizonte where the contrasts between the neighborhoods are evident

Even though the country in recent years has shown a decrease in poverty, the level of social inequality in Brazil is still notorious.

Whether due to its past slavery or the lack of investments in infrastructure, Brazil still has very high levels among the richest and the poorest.

See also: The biggest examples of social inequality in Brazil

Social Inequality in the World

Social inequality exists on all continents. There are places where problems are most evident, for example, in African countries, which are among the most unequal in the world.

For their part, in Scandinavian countries, there is almost no difference between social classes due to the establishment of the Social Welfare State after World War II.

Unable to access health and education, it is unlikely that a person will have the best opportunities in the job market. Also, the difficulty of access to cultural and historical goods by most of the population inhibits their opportunities.

See also: Underdeveloped Countries

Economic Systems

There is no consensus on which economic system generates the most social inequality.

On the one hand, some studies claim that social inequality arose with capitalism , as it is based on the idea of ​​capital accumulation and private property.

Capitalism also encourages the principle of competition and classifies the level of people based on capital and consumption.

In turn, socialism aims to abolish private property, which would belong to the state, and thus eradicate social classes. However, until now, all socialist experiences have failed, as a ruling class has emerged that has more privileges than the others.

See also: Socialism

Types of Inequalities

In addition to social inequality, there are other ways to evaluate a society by the way it treats its members from an economic, regional, racial and gender perspective.

  • Economicinequality: inequality between income distribution.
  • Racialinequality: inequality of opportunities for different races: black, white, yellow, brown.
  • Regional inequality: disparities between regions, cities and states.
  • Gender inequality: differences between men and women, homosexuals, trans and other genders.

See also: Social Prejudice


  • According to the UN, Brazil is the eighth country with the highest index of social and economic inequality in the world.
  • The “Gini coefficient” is a measure used to measure the level of inequality in countries according to income, poverty and education.
  • In the European Union, the country with the greatest social inequality is Portugal.
  • The countries with the lowest social inequality are: Norway, Japanand Sweden.
  • The countries with the greatest social inequalities are from the African continent: Namibia, Lesotho and Sierra Leone.


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