Global inequalities

The University of Manchester is advancing our understanding of the world in which we live, addressing global inequalities to improve lives.

There are pronounced inequalities across the world. While progress has been made in some countries and on some aspects of inequality, it’s still the case that food, health care, infrastructure and resources are plentiful in some areas, yet scarce in others. Far too many households struggle with low income and poor job prospects.

Across the world, men and women’s opportunities, experiences, their potential and their quality of life are shaped by unequal treatment, prejudice and discrimination due to their personal characteristics or family background.

At its most stark, this means that around 800 million people in the world will go hungry today, and 29,000 children will die from preventable health care problems.

University of Manchester infographic: global inequalities
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Tackling all aspects of inequality

At The University of Manchester we’re focusing on all aspects of inequality, from poverty to social justice, from living conditions to equality in the workplace. We seek to understand our world and directly change it for the better.

There is enough food to feed everyone in the world. There is no justifiable reason why the opportunities of health and well-being should not be available to all, irrespective of gender, ethnicity, educational opportunities, social class, age, sexuality, religious belief or dis/ability.

As we have done for almost two centuries, The University of Manchester is leading the way in tackling global inequalities. Bringing together some of the best academic minds in applied medicine, business, law, social sciences and the arts, we’re meeting these challenges head on, creating and sharing knowledge to alleviate and end poverty and inequalities across the globe. 

With years of research in global development, health care, education, disaster management, humanitarian aid, employment and equality and diversity, we help to deliver real-world benefit.

Lockdown Lectures

Many of our best-known academics have been giving lectures from their own homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Watch the lectures below from Professors Gary Younge, Claire Alexander and David Olusoga, or head to our Lockdown Lectures page to view the full set.


    Changing how people work and think

    Our global and local partners are changing the way they work and how they govern. Our research directly influences policies which make positive changes for people living in poverty and inequality. International governmental organisations, national governments, multinational corporations, global charities and non-governmental organisations partner with us to do things differently.

    For example, our insight helped Cadbury to launch its £45 million Cocoa Partnership to support cocoa farmers and their communities and to convert its range of Cadbury Dairy Milk and Green & Black’s chocolate bars to Fairtrade.

    Our researchers develop evidence to influence policies that help improve the health and well-being of the most disadvantaged in society. Our strengths in the field of global health range from the professionalisation of volunteers to engagement with donors and policymakers. We’re experts in unravelling the social inequalities that stand in the way of better health care for all – our research led to a better understanding of urban health issues in cities across Europe.

    Our research is helping to bring about a fairer and more just world.

    Global inequalities: Research breakthroughs

    Global challenges, Manchester solutions

    Inclusive growth

    Global challenge

    Economic growth is pursued by every nation around the globe, but the benefits of increasing prosperity are unevenly distributed. This imbalance leads to social and economic inequalities.

    Manchester solution

    The Inclusive Growth Analysis Unit is an independent analytic resource to help make poverty reduction central to processes of economic growth and devolution in Greater Manchester, and to provide research, analysis and insight on inclusive growth in other UK cities.

    Everyday peace indicators

    Global challenge

    When peace-building projects report success at a national level, on-the-ground research may tell different stories of human rights abuses, militarised governments and inter-group conflict. Local communities – best placed to identify changes in their own circumstances – are often overlooked.

    Manchester solution

    The Humanitarian Conflict and Response Institute (HCRI) has asked community members in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Uganda and South Sudan to identify their own measures of peace. Researchers take these ‘everyday peace indicators’ and test them within their wider community, repeating the exercise to measure change over time. The indicators chosen – such as business owners painting their storefronts – help reveal community priorities and therefore their confidence in peace.

    Chronic poverty

    Global challenge

    Every single day, 19,000 children die of easily preventable causes. Traditional development aid projects are not sufficient to tackle the scale of the problem.

    Manchester solution

    Research at the Global Development Institute has shown direct anti-poverty transfers to be a practical, politically sustainable and financially feasible means to address extreme and chronic poverty in low- and middleincome countries. Our findings have shaped development policy, influenced national governments and informed practice in several countries, including Uganda and Bangladesh.

    Sustainable Development Goals

    Global challenge

    The challenges of poverty, hunger, health, climate change, education, sustainability and inequality are being faced in every nation across the world.

    Manchester solution

    University of Manchester research addresses the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. Whether it’s addressing microplastics in rivers, food insecurity or building climate-resilient cities, our research is focused on developing a sustainable future.

    Business and human rights

    Global challenge

    Businesses are increasingly seen as having a direct responsibility to respect human rights in their activities and operations, regardless of the context in which they operate.

    Manchester solution

    The Business and Human Rights Network defines the challenges of business to respect human rights, engages key actors, and informs the academic, social and political debate, helping to shape future policy and corporate practice. Key themes being explored by the network include investment, modern-day slavery and gender equality in global value chains.

    Age-friendly cities

    Global challenge

    By 2030, 60% of the global population will live in cities, with at least 25% of city dwellers aged 60 or over. The needs of this age group will become increasingly significant in social and public policy.

    Manchester solution

    Our researchers trained a group of 18 older residents, aged between 58 and 74, to help us with our research. These co-researchers then conducted 68 interviews across South Manchester with older people who were experiencing social exclusion, isolation, poverty or health problems. Interviews focused on ways of improving quality of life for older people in urban communities and were designed to be particularly sensitive to marginalised community voices.