Income Disparity Tops the List of Global Risks

In a tumultuous year of social unrest stemming from the lack of economic opportunities, it should come as no surprise that income disparity rose to the top as a major threat to global economic stability.

Severe income disparity and fiscal imbalances are the biggest threats to globalization, according to the 2012 Global Risks report released last week. The content of the report will be on the agenda for the annual World Economic Forum taking place in Davos on January 25-29.

The findings, which results from a survey of 469 industry experts, indicates a shift towards social and economical risks and away from the environmental risks seen in last year’s report. In the 2012 report, 50 risks are assessed (compared to 37 in previous years) and grouped into five categories: economic, environmental, geopolitical, societal and technological.

The gains of globalization are at risk of being reversed by the “seeds of dystopia,” according to the report. The Arab Spring, the Occupy movement and the protests in Europe are the results of the civil discontent emerging from the lack of job opportunities, social entitlements and a stable economy.

“For the first time in generations, many people no longer believe that their children will grow up to enjoy a higher standard of living than theirs,” said Lee Howell, the World Economic Forum Managing Director responsible for the report. “This new malaise is particularly acute in the industrialized countries that historically have been a source of great confidence and bold ideas.”

Other major risks includes the “dark side of connectivity,” where cyber attacks, subversion and espionage make us vulnerable to the pitfalls of online systems.

Check out the report here.

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