Globalization and Awareness of Underprivileged

Table of Content


            The term globalization has been widely used to nearly all aspects of economic and social issues, but its meaning has always been conceived as ambiguous. Yet, it encompasses a variety of huge processes that concerns linkage and organization of many different aspects in a global scale, hence the term (TGW, 2001). Consequently, many definitions for the term has been sprouting resulting to dispute for a distinct meaning. But in general, characterization of globalization can be seen to be inclined on elements that concerns economic aspects. Globalization, as a concept and as a terminology, has also a deep historical background since the beginnings of its popularity as a term in the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 (Gyohten, 2001). But it is not a 20th century outcome but of the collaboration of the global historic events in the enormous and outstanding voyages and expeditions in the 15th century. Moreover, the birth and emergence of industrial capitalism in the 19th century is also a relevant contributory episode of globalization.

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            Recently, globalization has also been subjected to discussion on whether it is advantageous or disadvantageous (IMF, 2000). Proponents say that globalization assists the developing countries or nations to “catch up” to the more developed or industrialized countries in a faster phase by means of increased employment and advancement in technology. On the other hand, critics oppose that it weakens national dominion and independence and allows the developed and rich countries to ship domestic job opportunities abroad where there is less cost on labor. Also complained are the destruction of the environment, eradication of distinct national cultures and the abuse of the weak (Kearny, 2005). Globalization has also been widely associated by its detractors as a one of the major cause of poverty (TGW, 2001).

            Australia is a prosperous country, and is considered to be one of the developed countries in Oceania as well as all over the world. Such developed countries have a level of high economic development that is implied by its high income per capita and a high Human Development Index or HDI. Other measures of development include high GDP or gross domestic product per capita, however this alone is controversial in determining such status. And as of 2004, Australia has a 0.957 HDI that ranks third in the world and nominal GDP of $36,016 (DFAT) that ranks 17th in the world, truly proving the country’s high level of development (Watkins, 2006). Though in such state, Australia and any other developed countries such as the United States, is not an exemption when it comes to poverty though poverty in such nations is greatly different in nature compared to those in the “developing countries”.

Poverty in terms of developed countries is connoted as earning below the half median of the salary or income of the population in consideration (Encarta, 2007). Poverty takes form in these countries such as homelessness or in a lesser extent, substandard and hazardous house construction (Encarta, 2007). Higher rates of poverty are also observed among racial minorities and indigenous people; and in Australia, Aboriginal Australians suffer from high rates joblessness and alcoholism. Hence, needless to expound, poverty is associated with other factors as aforementioned, resulting to less privileged people including the members of the indigenous society not only in Australia but as well in other developed and developing countries.

            In this paper, the status of underprivileged people under poverty in Australia — such as the members of the indigenous and minority or ethnic groups, and the jobless or unemployed – would be described and explained in the context of globalization. Specifically, this paper aims to discuss a) the concept of globalization concisely; b) the association of poverty and globalization and; c) poverty in Australia in the context of globalization.


The Concept of Globalization

            There are numerous definitions for the term globalization but usually, these definitions overlap on the concept of increasing linkage and organization of economies on a global scale. Also encompassed is the connectivity of social life resulting to the consolidation of societies in the world (TGW, 2001). The International Monetary Fund or IMF defined globalization or “economic globalization” as the product of human advancements and innovation and technological progress (IMF, 2000). Not only is it the union of prices, wages, products, rates of interest and profits; but also of models of production and consumption and the consequential unification of cultures (Shariff, 2003, Raskin, 2002).

            As mentioned earlier, globalization is a historical process and has a deep historical background. But if explained in terms of the post-Cold War period, it would mean distinctively since it now includes three inseparable elements that strengthen one another (Gyohten, 2001). First is the “new global paradigm of democracy and market economy”. This explains how the United States have dominated the world in the aspect of military and economic prowess. This was brought about by the countries social structure, and market and political system and management that has surpassed the test of circumstances and has attested its resiliency and dynamism. Not only were those aspects were proved to be effective, but also the uncommon tandem of strong patriotism and the ability of self-correction that consequently was recognized by other countries as the most possible and effective way to reinforce their international status. The second aspect is on the sharing of global information. In a nut shell, it deals with the variety of technological information being processed and disseminated in variety of quantity, speed and complexity by numerous technological means. Subsequently, the information from such processes is now easily utilized in innumerable processes in many economic activities (with a huge impact on financial services industry) and governance. Not only does the versatility of information processing has been recognized, but also its transparency and accountability making it as an indispensable foundation of governance. The third and the last is on the international flow of capital. Globalization has revolutionized and developed the nature and function of the international financial market quantitatively and qualitatively. This development, combined with the aging population, have assisted in the accumulation of funds that can be invested in the household level and subsequently were directed to numerous funds such as in investment, mutual, pension, hedge and other funds. Truly, the movement of capital across the globe has been due to the sharing of business information and the advanced financial engineering.

            There was no actual measure of a globalization that a particular nation is in such state and in a particular level until the A.T. Kearny/Foreign Policy Globalization Index was conceptualized in 2000 (Kearny, 2005). Four indicators have been considered in order to measure the many dimensions of globalization, namely: economic integration, which includes trade and foreign direct investment; technological connectivity, comprised by internet users, internet hosts and secure servers; personal contact, encompassing international communication and travel, remittances, employee compensation and other person-to-person and non-governmental transfers and; political engagement, including membership in international organizations, contributions in the United Nations’ peacekeeping endeavors, treaties ratification and governmental transfers. And in 2005, 62 countries were ranked accounting for the 96% of the world’s GDP and 85% of the world’s population. In result, Singapore took the top place, and the country’s increased political engagement was seen to be responsible to such status. Moreover, Singapore has strengthened the position in foreign trade by the settlement with bilateral free trade arrangement with the United States in 2003.

Globalization and Poverty

            In the previous section, globalization was discussed in the perspective of more likely as advantages. But the critics and detractors of the concept have been more particular on its flaws and negative effects more specifically on its “worsening-effect” on world poverty and inequality. Many argue that it has worsened the status of poor countries and even uncovering the poor people to unhealthy competition (TGW, 2001). This outlook is plausible since the gap between the rich and the poor has widened and is seemingly becoming more glaring in the past years. This gap can be determined when inequality, as defined by the World Bank as the discrepancy of income and standard of living among nations and their people, is measured and compared (Lucas, 2007). Incomes and standard of living should be considered when comparing inequality among nations. According to the World Bank, people living on $1 and $2 per day in developing countries and average-level economies, respectively, are considered poor. Poor are also those who are single elderly people earning less than $25 per day according to the US Census Bureau, as well as those who are young but live in multiple person families earning the same amount of income. A study in 2003 revealed that 85% of the world’s total income was collected by richest 5% of the world’s population while only 1.4% of the world’s total income was received by the poorest 5%. When considering the per capita GDP in a span of a century (1900-2000), the richest quarter of the world’s population had nearly six-fold increase while the poorest quarter had under three-fold increase (Lucas, 2007). Hence, the gap of the rich and the poor is broadening in terms of income although it is not only the indicator of which a wealth of a nation can be assessed. Also, there are no evidences that show that the income differences among the leaders in the processes of globalization have broadened (Milanovic, 2003).

            Globalization, as emphasized by its proponents, should not be considered as the single cause of poverty in nations. As they reasoned out, if globalization really is responsible for poverty, then the status of countries which are now into trade and investment should have worsened. This is not true for all since China, since being integrated to the world economy, have made considerable progress and development (TGW, 2001). But the fact that some countries experience the opposite effect can not be denied as it has happened in the sub-Saharan Africa. Also according to the Global Poverty Report, the ration of the world population experiencing poverty has decreased from 29% in 1988 down to 26% in 1998 (TGW, 2001). But the truth is, poverty is a composition of many factors and aspects and hence a single factor considered would not explain the whole picture. It maybe caused by overpopulation, inequality in the world economic resources distribution, low standards and cost of living, low quality of education and employment opportunities, abuse of the environmental resources, trends in economy and demography and welfare incentives (Encarta, 2007).

            Recently in 2003, the IMF had made a great revelation expressing that there is no clear proof that globalization would help and may even hurt the poor countries (Ambrose, 2003). Processes such as international financial integration and capital account liberalization, supposedly formulated to countries reduce economic volatility, has failed such function and in some cases associated by increased vulnerability to crises. And in the last ten years, developing nations such as Thailand, Russia, and Argentina have their economies collapsed though they have been employing IMF’s arranged open market policies.

Poverty in Australia and Globalization

            Poverty is not only widespread in underdeveloped or developing countries. Though in a different context, poverty also affects highly developed countries. Australia is one of leading developed and globalized countries in the world, ranking 13th in the A.T. Kearny/Foreign Policy Globalization Index as of 2005 (Kearny, 2005). Though in such ranking, Australia on the downside, also ranks high in terms poverty rates (12.9%) ranking second in the latest data in OECD (Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development) countries after United States (Wikipedia, 2007). Also according to the 2001 data of the Smith Family, 13% of Australians live in poverty, 14.9% of children live in poverty and 21.8% are single parent families living in poverty. In Australia, poverty is referred to as “relative poverty”, and those who are poor have living standards that are below under the overall standard of the community and are unable to fully join in the common activities of the society (BSL, 2002). However, these numbers are only based on income, but we have earlier discussed that poverty not only lies on the assessment of this single factor but of many. In this paper, the indigenous Australians and the unemployed are considered as those who are in poverty or underprivileged (BSL, 2002).

The Indigenous Australians

            The Indigenous Australians or Aborigines consisted of the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, totaled 458,500 in number or comprising 2.4% of the country’s total population as of 2001 (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2006). More than half of them can be located in New South Wales and Queensland urban areas. They are also considered to be the most disadvantaged and the poorest when considering a range of socio-economic factors as reported in the Census of 2001 (AIHW, 2006; (Hunter, 1999). Moreover, unemployment rates shoot as high as 17% compared to the other Australians wit 7.3% in the year 2000 estimate (BSL, 2002). They also experience lower income, poorer quality of education and lower rates of home ownership (AIHW, 2006).

            Not only does this trend of poverty can be observed in the indigenous sector in Australia, but also in other developed and developing countries (Encarta, 2007; (Carino, 2005). Many studies have agreed that poverty among indigenous people can be attributed and rooted on a nation’s history of colonization and in the enduring discrimination and the non-recognition of their individual an collective rights (Carino, 2005). They are on emphasis in the penury process caused by the taking away of the ancestral lands from their possession, loss of control of the natural resources and knowledge, and their obligatory integration into the majority of the society and their integration in the market economy.

            Globalization has the strongest impact on the indigenous population throughout the world primarily on the reason that their communities have no say and thus easily flounced by the “invisible hand” of the international market and its proponents (International Forum on Globalization, 2006). Many factors can be considered and one can be on the location of the indigenous population where natural resources are still abundant such as forests, minerals, water and biodiversity. Global corporations have been relocating them out of their lands, hence taking away what they have. Advancements in technology, the redirection toward export-oriented development and the imperatives of attracting financial markets internationally are all motivating factors in the extinction of such communities that stand in the way of the global corporations. There are also issues regarding the removal of traditional independence in hunting and gathering in lieu to new global economic agreements. Construction of facilities and military infiltration usually on the territory of the indigenous population have paved way to a more industrialized and globalized extraction of natural resources but sacrificing the homelands of the indigenous. Therefore, globalization have been instrumental to the wiping out of the natural resources, that are also sources of their livelihood, as well as indigenous knowledge, and vast and deep culture and traditions, paving way to their poverty.

Unemployment in Australia

            Unemployment is an important issue in Australia (and in any other country) since it has serious economic, social implications that in turn could lead to disrupted family relationship, mental health problems, homelessness, and other disadvantageous effects on children (BSL, 2005). It is defined by the International Labor Organization as an individual who is “not in paid employment who is actively looking for work”. And in April of 2005, the Australian Bureau of Statistics approximated that 54% people were unemployed in the country or 5.1% of the population. Though the rate is the lowest in 28 years, it is still composed of a large population with limited income and low standard of living. Unemployed people in Australia are composed statistically of indigenous Australians, migrants, disabled individuals and young and older workers.

As mentioned, disability is one of the leading factors that of unemployment and is both the cause and consequence of poverty (DFID, 2000). As defined by DFID, it is the result of the multifaceted interactions between the functional boundaries arising from an individual’s physical or mental state and the social and physical environment. It restricts an individual to properly perform daily activities. The elimination of poverty in the world would only be achieved if the rights and needs on disabled individuals are considered.

According to a survey of ABS Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC) in 2003, 20% or 1 in 5 people in Australia is disabled. Another 21% had a long-term health condition but not hindering their daily activities. Of the 86% reported cases of disability, 86% were limited in the basic activities of self-care, movement and interaction and even schooling and employment. And in employment studies, those who have a high limitation in core movements had a very low contribution or participation in the labor force (15%) than those who are not disabled (81%). Though employed, disabled individuals are more likely to work in part-time jobs (37%) than those who are employed but not disabled (29%). Hence, disability is causing limitations in the activity and productivity of an individual and his or her potential to be employed.

However, the increasing rate of unemployment in many developed countries is associated with the low rates of economic growth (Camdessus, 1996). Also pointed out as a culprit is the increasing level of technology and information technology that makes the non-literate and non-numerate to unemployment. Australia has proven its productivity and economic growth in the recent years (OECD, 2002). Its literacy rate is also at a very high rate of 99% (Wikipedia, 2007). Hence, there would be little doubt that there is low unemployment rate in Australia and is even at its lowest point for a long duration of years.


Globalization is such a huge and a multifaceted concept that may have various implications on many national economic aspects.  The term may also mean differently in different contexts but would still be directed on the global interaction and the linkage of the economies of nations around the world. Having such different meanings, different perceptions regarding the advantages and disadvantages of globalization have caused wide dispute between the proponents and the detractors. Nevertheless, it has been long subjected to criticism on its effect on the quality of life in reality, whether for the improvement or collapse and whether for the developing and developed countries. And different perspectives would yield different implications on whether or not globalization is really advantageous or not. Poverty or any other issue that can be subjected into discussion on the context of globalization would also be subjective whether or not it is the consequence of the phenomenon.

Australia is undoubtedly considered one of the leading developed and highly globalized nations in the world. But looking deeply on its economic status and the quality of life of its citizens in totality, there is still some that can be perceived as not going with the trend of globalization. The Indigenous Australians or the Aborigines have been suffering to high rates of poverty caused by many would say due to the processes of globalization. But such phenomena cannot only be observed in Australia, but on any other indigenous or minority groups around the world. This has something to do the culture and traditional way of living of these groups. Unemployment is also never an exception in Australia, but this is also the case and is the reality in any other countries, whether developing or developed. It is an inevitable downfall in any society. But the highly globalized economic stature of Australia has surpassed the challenges of such dilemma and has still proven its stability and good standing when it comes to unemployment rate in relation to its economic growth. Truly, Australia has been able to capitalize on its economic strengths and on the trend of globalization.


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