Photo by Foundation for Economic Education

Wealth inequality has been present since the dawn of time. During the Qing Dynast (221-206 b.c), for example, social structures distributed resources based on a pre-established hierarchy. In mid-19th century Russia, the population consisted mainly of peasant farmers, with 1.5% of the population owning 25% of the land. Nowadays,'laissez faire' economic policies aim to facilitate the appropiate distribution of wealth and resources in most countries, where the aim is to link individual effort with earnings. This system has its roots in the 'invisible hand' concept introduced by famous economist, Adam Smith, in 1759.

How Education Raises Standard of Living
According to the 'invisible hand', each citizien in a free market tends to produce goods and services desired by their neighbors, inadvertently maximizing social benefits. However, citizens' capacity to produce goods and services is limited by their skill or knowledge level which, in turn, is mainly determined by their level of education. Thus, education and income are significantly and positively related to standard of living and food security.

On the individual level, education brings about better employment opportunities by increasing one's chances of getting a job. Whereas, on the aggregate level, education's impact is much more pervasive. It helps spread awareness among the general public regarding the laws and rights that provide them with the ability to live with freedom. It also accelerates social development by helping citizens become productive members of society who have something to contribute to the country. Finally, education helps groom the mind of each individual, accelerating innovation of new technologies which, in turn, helps the country grow in different sectors.

The Challenge
According to UNESCO, 17% of the world population remains illiterate. Despite large improvements in the expansion of basic education, and the continuous reduction of education inequalities, there are substantial challenges ahead. The poorest countries in the world, where basic education is most likely to be a binding constraint for development, still have very large segments of the population who are illiterate. In Niger, for example, the literacy rate of the youth (15-24 years) is only 36.5%, causing major setbacks in the development of the nation and its citizens' standard of living.

The Solution
While many impoverished families in third world countries still don't have access to personal computers or a wi-fi connection, many can afford at least one smartphone with Internet connection, which suffices to provide a quality education.
The Internet has come a long way since its inception in 1980. Decades of contributions have turned the world wide web into the biggest encyclopedia people have ever seen, making information and knowledge accessible to those who know how to use it. Thanks to the Internet, one can now refer back to the collective knowledge of the world for any personal queries, and take online courses to develop skills for little to no money.

These resources will eventually create an educational equilibrium among the citizens of the world, making education a right, rather than a privilege which, in turn, will raise quality of life for all.

For more information on online edcuational resources, please visit for a comprehensive list of free educational websites.