14 Social inequalities in consumption

Globally, the 20% of the world’s people in the highest- income countries account for 86% of total private consumption expenditures — the poorest 20% a minuscule 1.3%.

Today’s consumption is undermining Earth’s resource base and is exacerbating these social inequalities. And the dynamics of the consumption-poverty-inequality-environmental system are accelerating. If the trends continue without change — not redistributing from high-income to low-income consumers, not shifting from polluting to cleaner goods and production technologies, not promoting goods that empower poor producers, not shifting priority from consumption for conspicuous display to meeting basic needs — today’s inequalities of consumption and human development will worsen.