March 21, 2016
News /
Posted by NCID

“Poverty has diminished in the last 25 years, affecting900 million people less, but inequality between social groups has risen and is expected to grow more. This can jeopardize peace." This was stated at the University of Navarra by Stefano Zamagni, Professor at the University of Bologna and Johns Hopkins University in Bologna (Italy), and member of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Zamagni gave the III ICS Lecture on Humanities and Social Sciences of the Institute for Culture and Society (ICS). Professor Zamagni argues that the distance between social groups is increasingly widening, “35 years ago, the comparison between the wages between the highest employee and the lowest one in an American company was 1 to 100, but today it is 1 to 700. In Spain can be 1 to 300 or 400 ".

He pointed out that “inequality is more dangerous than poverty. It is difficult for the absolute poor to start a war, but those who suffer inequality without being poor can become violent against a society unable to redistribute wealth fairly.”

In Europe, he pointed out, inequalities have been compensated by the welfare state, but according to Zamagni “the welfare state is financially unsustainable” and politicians “should be thinking in terms of future generations and not the next elections.”

“The crisis of the welfare state has intensified and it is very connected to violence, migration and the refugees crisis”, he noted. With regard to the massive arrival of these two groups, he recalled that it is an issue "more important than in the past" because the problem is connected with political and religious factors, not only with economic and labor issues.

“Syrians are not poor; they come to Europe because their homes have been destroyed, and in some countries in Africa, Catholics are fleeing because they are persecuted for their faith.” According to Professor Zamagni, solutions must not come from individual nations, but Europe as a whole: "Each State thinks of itself in isolation from the rest, but this only increases inequalities and violence."

Happiness Index 2016

Moreover, he referred to the World Happiness Report 2016, presented last week by the UN, which says that the happiest countries in the world are Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland and Norway.

The expert said the results do not match other data such as high levels of suicides and divorces that occur in these countries, while in the Mediterranean nations, occupying much lower ranking positions, there are figures showing more vital satisfaction.

"The problem is that the indicators on which they are based were introduced by Anglo-Saxons, who have a very utilitarian perspective. But if we recover the Aristotelian approach, which understands happiness as a consistent activity with virtue, we conclude that to achieve money is not that necessary". In that regard, he recalled a study of the 1970s from Bill Easterly that revealed that happiness increases with per capita income, but only to a point, $ 22,000. "From that figure, an increase of income happiness not only happiness was not growing, but it decreases".

This article is written by Isabel Solana, ICS Communications Officer and it first appeared in the ICS website.