The issues

Here is an explanation of the indicators that we looked at. All the statistics are from the UN Human Development Report except for ‘Number of people without enough to eat’, which is from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and Happiness, which is from the New Economics Foundation Life Satisfaction I (one of their indicators within their Happy Planet Index).

Life expectancy

One of the simplest ways to understand injustice in our world is the dramatic difference in how long people live. For a child born in Nigeria today the average lifespan is 47 years; just eight years older than England goalkeeper David James. In contrast, Japan is the best place to live for a long life, with an average life expectancy of 82.

National income per person

There is a huge difference between how money is divided between countries across the world. Nigeria is the poorest country in the World Cup with an income of £730 per person a year. It takes England centre-back John Terry just ten minutes to earn the same. The United States is the richest country in the World Cup with an income of over £27,000 per person a year.


But not everyone in Nigeria receives £730 a year just as not everyone in the US receives £27,000. A few people get a lot more, and a lot of people get a lot less. One way of measuring inequality within a country is how much the richest 10 per cent of the population earn for every £1 the poorest ten per cent earn.

Japan is the most equal country in the World Cup (is it a coincidence they also live longest?). For every ¥1 the poorest Japanese receive, the richest 10 per cent get ¥4.50. The South American country Paraguay is the most unequal. For every 1 Guarani the poorest Paraguayans get, the richest ten per cent get 65 Guaranis.

Of course, within the top ten per cent there are the super rich and the super-super-super rich. If you are on the minimum wage in England, for every £1 you earn, striker Wayne Rooney gets £1230.

Carbon dioxide emissions per person

Climate change defines injustice. The poorest countries in the world such as Bangladesh, Zambia and Bolivia will suffer the most from increased flooding, more droughts and stronger storms. But it is the richest countries which are most responsible for causing it. The African countries Ghana, Cameroon and Ivory Coast all emit just 0.3 tonnes of carbon dioxide per person, compared to 9.8 tonnes per person in England. The biggest emitter in the World Cup is the richest; the United States emits over 20 tonnes of carbon dioxide per person each year. This is why WDM is campaigning on climate justice.

Women in government

The World Cup perpetuates our male dominated world. How many female players, managers, referees and TV pundits will we see over the next four weeks? Inequality between women and men lies at the heart of global injustice. Women do two-thirds of the world’s work but receive just 10 per cent of the world’s income.

The number of women in government is one measure of how male dominated a society is. In Spain, women are as equally represented in government ministries as men. In Slovakia and Uruguay, there are no female government ministers at all.

Spending on aid

In 1970, the world’s richest nations committed themselves to spending 0.7 per cent of their national income on international aid each year in order to fight global poverty. Few have ever done so. Even worse, aid has been used as a political tool to support dictators during the Cold War, or to impose free market policies such as water privatisation on poor countries.

We applaud Denmark and the Netherlands as the two countries in the World Cup which have met the 0.7 per cent target, spending 0.81 and 0.82 per cent of their income on aid respectively. Crisis struck Greece comes bottom on this measure, but Portugal, the United States, Australia, Spain, Japan and Italy join them in all spending less than 0.3 per cent of their incomes on aid.

Spending on the military

Whilst money for tackling poverty is in short supply, money for fighting wars is not. The amount of money spent on armed forces in 3 days would be enough to provide primary education for all children currently without.

The United States and Greece both spend over 4 per cent of their incomes on the military. Of countries in the World Cup, Mexico spends the least on weapons; just 0.4 per cent.

Number of people without enough to eat

Over 1 billion people in the world suffer from chronic hunger; they don’t get enough to eat day after day. Despite the world’s wealth, the number of hungry people has increased in recent years because of high food prices and the global recession. Part of the reason for high food prices is speculation by banks and hedge funds, pushing prices up.

The most hungry countries in the world tend not to be in the World Cup. Presumably it is more difficult to kick a football if you are not getting enough to eat. Cameroon has most impressively overcome the hunger barrier to qualify for the World Cup. Over 20 of every 100 Cameroonians go hungry every night.

Maternal mortality

One measure of the quality of health care in a country is how many women die in childbirth. The people of Ivory Coast suffer the most from a lack of health care; over 900 women die for every 100,000 births. Women are far less likely to die in richer countries, but there are still large differences between them. In the United States 17 women die for every 100,000 live births, compared to 8 in England and 4 in Italy.


Being happy is a good thing. A last minute winner can make you happy. Going out on penalties can make you very miserable.

Does money make you happy? Not having enough food, shelter or clean water can certainly make you miserable. The least happy countries in the World Cup are Cameroon and Ivory Coast (at least until Drogba scores the winner on 11 July). But money isn’t everything. Honduras is happier than Italy. Mexico is happier than England.

North Korea

For decades North Korea has been one of the world’s most secretive societies. The official data we have used to gather the statistics is not available for the Asian country suffering from a totalitarian regime.

The CIA estimates that 25 per cent of North Korea’s income is spent on the military. The UN estimates that over 30 per cent of the population are malnourished. The National Human Rights Commission of Korea estimates that up to 900 people per 100,000 are held prisoner in prisons and labour camps.

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