High levels of income inequality have been associated with a variety of social problems such as poverty, crime, and social instability, particularly in countries where living standards are low for most residents. For example, in Tunisia in the years prior to the 2011 revolution, the country’s total per capita GDP was climbing while its income gap was widening significantly, partly because of rising unemployment. Even as the country overall was getting richer, more Tunisians were experiencing poverty, and their average life evaluations were falling.
The resulting hardship ultimately contributed to revolution, which in turn triggered unrest among other disadvantaged Arab-world populations. It also clearly demonstrated the importance to global leaders of tracking income distribution, especially in times of rapid economic change.