The women stand out amongst men: Prime Minister Theresa May (2nd row, 2nd from left) and South Korean President Geun-hye Park (1st row,3rd from right) in red whilst IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde (3rd row, 3rd from left) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (1st row, 6th from left) in blue. World leaders met at the G20 summit in China a couple of days ago to discuss foreign and economic policy.
The World Economic Forum published a study on Human Capital a couple of months ago that detailed each country's rank by its quality of education, integration into the workplace and retirement for elders 65+ years and older and not surprisingly, the top 5 countries were:
Surprisingly, the United States (no. 24) came in behind the U.K. (no. 19) and all its European, Canadian and Israeli neighbours, just ahead of the Czech Republic (no. 25). Now one might think that the U.S. has an advanced economy, the largest in the world, so why is there more illiteracy and lack of quality education in the U.S. than say in Finland, Japan or the U.K.?
It could be partly due to the fact that the U.S. is #3 in the world for having the most number of people living in poverty at 46.7 million people, just behind China (82 million people living in poverty) and India (276 million people living in poverty).
We also have to take into account that China has a population of 1.36 billion people (over 4x the population in the U.S.) in comparison to the U.S. population of 318.9 million. From 1981 to 2008, China had taken 600 million people out of poverty whereas in the U.S., after the 1990s, poverty in America exploded and nearly doubled between 2000 and 2013.
The alarming trend in the U.S. seems to be an increasing divide between between the different socioeconomic classes, with an ever-increasing number of people living in poverty with a dramatic shrinkage of people in the middle class.
This is the opposite trend in China, but perhaps a growing trend in U.K. The U.K. currently has 16.8% living in overall poverty primarily concentrated in Northern Ireland, Wales, Yorkshire and London at a total population of 64.1 million people.
Taking into account that many people living in poverty in the U.K. are children, it is important to target the areas that are most vulnerable (ie, Northern Ireland, Wales, Yorkshire) as areas that were previously manufacturing sectors need to transition towards their population towards more architectural, environmental engineering and agricultural sectors as part of the 4th Industrial Revolution.
According to the World Economic Forum, architecture, design, energy and environmental engineering will become one of the foremost sectors in the 4th Industrial Revolution, as global populations are set to dramatically increase, we need to account for a new way for how people will live, consume and connect with others.
Whilst the U.S. has primarily ignored their growing poverty problem and been churning out paper billionaires via the proliferation of unicorn companies in social networks and on-demand companies; other nations, such as China and Japan, have taken the lead into environmental engineering and alternative energy and dramatically shrinking their poverty rates by government support of small businesses and aggressive investment into agriculture and infrastructure to decrease the income gap.
China is developing the largest waste-to-energy plant in the world in Shenzen using nanotechnology.
As the U.K. enters the 4th Industrial Revolution, in a post-Brexit era, it is important to consider the foreign policies of neighbours in the Far East, and develop a more grounded relationship with the pioneering nations that are leading the direction of change in the way people will be educated, live, consume and connect with others in the 4th Industrial Revolution, and these are the nations that aren't simply ignoring the poverty problem.
By Sierra Choi