Over the past decades, both the Asia-Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean regions have made considerable strides in social development driven by economic growth, generating new jobs, increasing labour incomes, strengthening social protection systems, and improving access to basic services and other opportunities. Despite this sustained economic development and substantial reductions in poverty, very large inequalities continue to exist on the basis of wealth, gender, residence, level of education, among other factors. High levels of inequality not only stifle economic progress, but also negatively affect feelings of trust and social cohesion, posing a formidable barrier to sustainable development (ESCAP, 2017).
This inequality within countries has sparked public concern and academic interest. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has a stand-alone goal on inequality: Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10 to “reduce inequalities within and among countries” is thus a core policy priority to ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for all.