Revised 30 August 2021

The trickledown theory claims that the poor in society are better off with continued economic growth because their share of a larger pie is bigger than their previous share. The trickledown theory has been refuted by empirical evidence of increasing global and national inequity. The share of the pie for the poor has substantially declined over the last 30 years. As of 2014, the top 1% of income accounts for 10% of the total income in advanced economies (Piketty, 2014). In the United States the top 10% has an income of close to nine times that of the bottom 10%. Inequity is more dramatic when the wealth of the rich and poor are compared. Wealth is defined as the net worth of assets in the form of property and real assets less liabilities. In 2018 the richest top 10% of the world population owned 85% of global wealth and 64% of the world population owned only 1.9% of the global wealth (Shorrocks et al., 2018). Economic growth has improved standards of living, but has also resulted in greater inequality. On ethical grounds, material consumption per-capita should be shared equally between nations and within nations. Higher standards of living tend to be accompanied by lower total fertility. If the rich nations were to assist the poor nations to raise their standard of living, then the world population would grow more slowly on its path to Zero Population Growth. 

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