Jeremy Corbyn is right about global inequality, and John Rentoul is wrong

Arch Blairite John Rentoul claimed that Jeremy Corbyn’s “complaint about growing global inequality is not based on facts”


Corbyn had said “The growing concentration of unaccountable wealth and power in the hands of a tiny corporate elite, a system many call neoliberalism,…has sharply increased inequality, marginalisation, insecurity and anger across the world,”

Chu’s article, contrary to what Rentoul claimed, argued that “It depends what one is measuring and how one measures it.” From Chu’s article you can also tell it depends hugely on whether or not you include China which, while it has certainly accommodated itself to global capitalism, is extremely far from having a neoliberal economy as promoted by the West. Corbyn specifically decried “neoliberalism” in his speech. Globally, the majority of the reduction in extreme income poverty at the global level has taken place in China. Rentoul then tweeted out, a bit less recklessly, that Corbyn’s remark was based on “selective” facts. One must always “select” facts. The key question is if the selection is fair or misleading.  

It you look at child mortality rates (which avoid problems associated with measuring income or wealth) then there is no question that global inequality has increased since 1990.

Based on UNICEF data, the chart below captures the relative risk of dying before your fifth birthday in the poorest regions of the world compared to Western Europe which has the world’s best child mortality rates. For example, in 1990, child mortality in West and Central Africa was 18.9 times higher than in Western Europe. By 2016 it was 24.3 times higher. The poorest regions in the world should have made the fastest progress in reducing child mortality rates because their deaths are, to a vastly higher degree than in Western Europe, the result of easily preventable causes like inadequate access to clean water, food or very basic health care. The ratios in the chart should have gone down markedly for the poorest regions by 2016, not gone up, or even stayed the same.

Corbyn was right.

GlobalChildMortalityRatiosRegionComparedTo WesternEurope

Below is the UNICEF data I used to calculate the ratios in the chart.



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