The coronavirus crisis has exposed the scale of inequality across the world and is likely to leave most countries even more unequal," the report says from Oxfam pointed out
The Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index, updated annually by Oxfam International and Development Finance International (DFI), ranks 158 governments based on three core pillars: spending on public services (meaning health, education, and social protection), progressive taxation policies, and workers' rights.
The new data and an accompanying report reveal that before the pandemic, only one is six countries were spending the recommended 15% of their budgets on health.
"In 103 countries, at least one in three of the workforce had no labor protection such as sick pay," the groups found. "Only 53 countries had social protection systems against unemployment and sickness, and they covered only 22% of the global workforce."
"Governments' catastrophic failure to tackle inequality meant the majority of the world's countries were critically ill-equipped to weather the pandemic," declared Oxfam interim executive director Chema Vera. "No country on earth was trying hard enough to reduce inequality and ordinary people are bearing the brunt of this crisis as a result," Vera added. "Millions of people have been pushed into poverty and hunger and there have been countless unnecessary deaths."
The bottom 10 countries, which the index classifies as "least committed" to reducing inequality, were Haiti, Guinea-Bissau, Central African Republic, Oman, Vanuatu, Liberia, Chad, Bahrain, Nigeria, and South Sudan, which ranked last.
The United States—ranked 26th overall—came in last among G7 countries and trailed 17 low-income nations such as Sierra Leone and Liberia on labor, "due to anti-union policies and a very low minimum wage," Max Lawson, Oxfam's head of inequality policy, and DFI director Matthew Martin wrote.
A statement from Oxfam pointed out that "many countries near the top of the index, such as Germany, Denmark, Norway, and the U.K., have been back-tracking on policies that reduce inequality like progressive taxation for decades."