steep express demonstration
trend income take to the streets
indeed distribute dissatisfaction
among handful continuous
even resources capital (3)
prevail disparity grow/grew/grown
entire coefficient discrepancy
slight confirm exacerbate
earn essential accumulation
risk stability






Demonstrations against the world’s prevailing economic system. Increasing numbers of people are taking to the streets to express their dissatisfaction, including here in the city of Frankfurt.

They say that the rich are getting richer, while the poor remain poor.

Statistics confirm the trend: wealth is indeed unevenly distributed.

86% of the global capital is in the hands of just 10% of the world’s population. Most of the world’s money, gold, factories and resources are owned by just a handful of people.

And only those who have capital can make theirs grow.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (the OECD) uses the GINI coefficient to measure income disparity.

If a country’s GINI is zero, it means that it’s wealth is evenly distributed among its citizens.

If its GINI is one, it means the country’s entire wealth is in the hands of a single person.

In the OECD countries, the GINI coefficient has risen continuously in the past sixteen years.

The distribution of wealth in both Germany and France has become more uneven.

But of all the industrialized countries, the biggest discrepancies between rich and poor are in the United States.

The economic crisis of the past few years has exacerbated the trend.

French economist Thomas Piketty has analyzed income development over the past 100 years in countries including the US.

His research confirm that the income of wealthiest 10% of the population has risen steeply, especially in the past 30 years.

The income of the remaining 90% increased only slightly over the past century.

Work alone doesn’t lead to the accumulation of wealth. Often a person’s hard-earned wages are just enough to pay for essentials.

Conditions like these lead to rising social inequality, a situation the International Monetary Fund says is the biggest risk to any society’s stability.

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1. Demonstrations against the prevailing economic system take place only in Frankfurt, Germany. True or false?

2. What do the protesters claim? What are they protesting about? Are they correct or are these false claims?

3. What do the statistics say?

4. Explain the GINI coefficient. What does it indicate?

5. How do different countries compare in the GINI coefficient? What does this say about their culture, ideals and values?

6. There is a definite trend. Yes or no?

7. Can work alone lead to wealth?

8. According to the IMF, rising inequality is not good for society. Is this right or wrong? Can you give examples?
A. How would you describe wealth distribution your country or society? What is the trend?

B. Is the gap between rich and poor good, bad, both or neither? How do (different) people feel about inequality?

C. What might happen in the future?

D. Should economic inequality be reduced? Should the gap between rich and poor and everyone else be lessened?

E. Who would like to see less inequality and more equality, everyone, most people, about half, some, few people or no one?

F. What is the “solution” to inequality?

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