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Wealth Inequality: Ethical or Unethical? Essay

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Updated: Feb 26th, 2021


Many scholars and theorists have been divided over the ethically (on unethically) of wealth disparity in the world. The rise of globalization is associated with a wide range of changes across the world. This wave has led to increased disparities in the opportunities and wealth of citizens and nations. The emergence of modern technologies, new policies, and political changes is something that widened the inequality gap. The rising levels of inequalities have led to numerous social problems and lack of opportunities (Norton 152). Inequality between nations has also risen within the past few decades. This development has been associated with a number of challenges.

Thesis statement: The principle of universal equality asserting that every individual in the society matters morally is enough evidence that wealth inequality is unethical since it results in the disproportional allocation of resources.

Arguments: Inequality is Unethical

Piff et al. indicate clearly that inequalities in people’s living standards have increased significantly within the past six decades (4090). This means that the gap between the rich and poor continues to expand. The inequalities in lifestyles can be attributed to the changes in incomes. Individuals who lack the necessary support and opportunities in their respective countries will find it hard to pursue their goals.

On the other hand, the rich find it easier to realize their potential and eventually transform their lives. This kind of disparity has led to more questions than answers. The biggest question, therefore, is why wealth inequality should be treated as an unethical social issue.

The first argument is that economic inequality gives rich or wealthier individuals in the society dominion over the lives of the others in the society. The average American citizen clearly understands that the country is characterized by two distinct groups. The first include the rich who control over half of the country’s wealth. This first group is comprised of less than one thousand individuals.

On the other hand, the second group is comprised of over 160 million people who control enormous wealth (Cote et al. 15839). The undetectable fact is that the rich have continued to control almost every sector of the economy. The other group has been forced to share the remaining percentage of the country’s wealth. Some analysts have presented interesting thoughts about the nature of wealth disparity in many nations. Cote et al. indicate clearly that the current level of wealth inequality has been associated with the nature of opportunities available in many societies (Cote et al. 15840).

For instance, individuals who do not get adequate education in the society will find it hard to acquire wealth and succeed in their lives. This issue has been observed to affect the greatest number of people in many societies. In the United States, opportunities have been unavailable to many members of minority groups such as African Americans and Latinos. Citizens who get the opportunity to receive quality education find it easier to pursue their economics goals.

When wealth is distributed unevenly in a given nation or society, the rich will begin to oppress or exert control over the less fortunate. Since the lives of the poor are controlled, it becomes impossible for them to achieve their goals. The poor will have to incur huge costs whenever buying consumer goods and services. Chances will be high that the individuals will eventually become poorer.

The second argument is that wealth inequality in a given society is something that undermines the effectiveness and fairness of every political institution. Wealth inequality has been observed to result in political unrest. Policymaking processes are usually disoriented in such nations. The increasing levels of inequalities in nations always result in widened policy gaps (Cote et al. 15840). The rich promote ineffective policies in an attempt to pursue their personal interests.

Consequently, the poor members of the society find it hard to lead happier lives (Carrington et al. 30). They also fail to benefit from the emerging opportunities that can transform their lifestyles. More often than not, leaders who have power tend to depend on the contributions and support of the wealthy members of the society. That being the case, the politicians will mainly focus on the demands and expectations of these wealthy individuals. The rich will be represented and empowered to pursue their goals. On the other hand, the poor will be unfairly represented and be unable to lead quality lives.

The wealthy will ignore the existing policies and laws since they control most of the industries and sectors. The malpractice has led to more unregulated economies and markets have emerged in the recent past (Piff et al. 4089). The investors in many nations have been competing for consumers in different parts of the world. This negligence is therefore attributable to the economic disparities experienced in many societies.

The third argument supporting the idea that wealth inequality is unethical is that it undermines the effectiveness of the entire economic system. For instance, the existence of wealth inequality will increase disparities and ensure more people do not have access to different opportunities. Some chidlren will be unable to get quality education. Individuals who lack adequate resources will be unable to access different opportunities that can support their goals.

The social problems associated with wealth inequality can be used to support the same argument. The issue of inequality in the society is something that has been observed to affect people’s lives and opportunities. Past studies have indicated clearly that economic inequality is responsible for a wide range of social challenges. For example, societies associated with wide wealth inequalities or gaps will record increased cases of criminal activities.

Some other problems that tend to emerge include polarization, lack of health, reduced political stability, and terrorism (Carrington et al. 29). When youths find it hard to realize their potential due to inequality, they tend to engage in unethical practices and catalyze political instability. Chatzidakis also indicates that there is a positive relationship between increased levels of violence and income disparity (82). Regions associated with absolute poverty become avenues for violence. Studies focusing on criminal activities and homicides have showed conclusively that wealth gap is a common denominator in such malpractices (Piff et al. 4090). Societies that have decreased living standards will record increased cases of violence.

The utilitarian concept is another argument that can be used to explain why wealth disparity is detestable or unethical. According to the theory of utilitarianism, an action or idea would be acceptable (or good) if only it seeks to maximize the happiness and living standards of the greatest majority (Norton 154). Wealth inequality presents numerous societal challenges and problems. The issue of wealth inequality appears to go against the utilitarian principle.

That being the case, many people will agree that wealth inequality is unacceptable and unethical. Extreme income inequality affects the manner in which individuals in a given society coexist. This has also been the same case for international communities. Societies that promote inequality might eventually be forced to tackle a wide range of social rots such as robbery, insecurity, and hostility (Carrington et al. 31). The rich people in such populations might find it hard to pursue their goals due to increasing unrest. Consequently, the number of happy people in the targeted community will decrease significantly.

Wealth disparity in communities has impacted different functions such as happiness, social welfare, and health. In the United States, the level of inequality has been associated with disparities in health life expectancy (Piff et al. 4090). Many people living in poor communities tend to have short life expectancies. The individuals will also encounter numerous challenges whenever trying to get quality health services. The lack of quality health services exposes members of the communities to numerous challenges and diseases.

John Rawls offers a powerful argument that can be used to explain why wealth inequality can be analyzed from an ethical perspective. In the “A Theory of Justice”, John Rawls indicates that inequality in the society can only be justified if it benefits every person (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2017). Wealth inequality, according to the philosopher, is appropriate if it supports the welfare of the most vulnerable and poor members of the society (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).

This would be the case if the rich would be ready to provide adequate resources and opportunities to the poor in the targeted society. The disadvantaged members of the society will eventually acquire new ideas, financial support, and resources from the existing nature of inequality. Unfortunately, the concepts presented by John Rawls would be hard to attain. This is the case because every form of inequality in the society has been associated with numerous challenges and social problems.

The greatest question that should be asked is whether the existing wealth inequality in the society supports the welfare of the poorest people. The answer to this question would be very simple (Chatzidakis 84). Wealth inequality in every society does not benefit the disadvantaged members of the community. It would therefore be agreeable that inequality in the modern society is something that is unacceptable, immoral, and unethical.

Another argument to support the above thesis statement is that workers in a given country participate in every income generating economic activity and should therefore have a fair share of the gross domestic product (GDP). Since the economy of a country is supported by every citizen, it would be wrong to promote a society that is characterized by wealth inequality. Workers and laborers tend to play a critical role throughout the economic development process.

In a country like China, analysts have observed that more people are earning a lot of money than ever before. This has been the case because the country’s economy has been growing fast. Similarly, more people have been able to get new opportunities and resources for empowerment. Unfortunately, the growth pattern has not been equal. This is the case because poor households continue to face numerous challenges. For instance, statistics have indicated that the income of poor households has been decreasing annually at a rate of 2.5 percent (Norton 153). This development is something that has attracted much attention from American philosophers and ethicists. Proponents of equality argue that the government should offer new opportunities to more people in the society.

Provision of quality education and training opportunities to poor people will make it easier for them to pursue their economic goals. The provision of quality health services and support systems without any form of disparity will make it possible for more people to achieve their objectives (Chatzidakis 85). These amenities will empower the citizens and eventually minimize cases of social unrest. New laws aimed at protecting the welfare of the less fortunate and lower classes in the society can produce positive results. The government should empower its citizens to chase a wide range of goals and opportunities. The undeniable fact is that many governments have failed to take up such tasks in order to ensure resources are shared equally to every citizen.


According to the principle of universal equality, every citizen in a given society matters morally and should be supported through the concepts of equality and empowerment. This means that wealth and resources should be distributed evenly in order to meet the needs of every citizen. The implementation of processes and policies that maximize wealth inequality is unethical and unacceptable (Carrington et al. 28).

Since workers in a given country are involved in every process aimed at improving its income, they should be entitled to a fair share of the national cake. The promotion of inequality will eventually undermine the economic and political systems and make it impossible for more people to realize their potential. Wealth inequality, therefore, is something unethical and must be addressed in order to ensure the rich do not have unacceptable level of control over the other members of the society.

Works Cited

Carrington, Michal, et al. “The Ideology of the Ethical Consumption Gap.” Marketing Theory, vol. 16, no. 1, 2016, pp. 21-38.

Chatzidakis, Andreas. “Guilt and Ethical Choice in Consumption: A Psychoanalytical Perspective.” Marketing Theory, vol. 15, no. 1, 2015, pp. 79-93.

Cote, Stephane, et al. “High Economic Inequality Leads Higher-Income Individuals to be Less Generous.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 112, no. 52, 2015, pp. 15838-15843.

Norton, Michael. “Unequality: Who Gets What and Why it Matters.” Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, vol. 1, no. 1, 2014, pp. 151-155.

Piff, Paul, et al. “Higher Social Class Predicts Unethical Behavior.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 109, no. 11, 2012, pp. 4086-4091.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. John Rawls, 2017. Web.

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