Young adults in some parts of sub-Saharan Africa are on average 5cm shorter than their counterparts 40 years ago, revealed an extraordinary study released this week.
Capitalism’s defenders say it brings prosperity and eliminates poverty when left to operate without regulation or restraint.
Africa has been a test bed for such claims.
The free market has been enforced by decades of “structural adjustment programmes” from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
Privatisation has been rammed through and subsidies torn away. Wars, often fuelled by Western states and business interests, have swept large parts of the continent.
The result is a population with worse nutrition, mass unemployment and people driven from the land into overcrowded slums.
That means worse health—evidenced by the height study.It’s not just people in the Global South who are failed by capitalism.
Average height growth stopped in the US in the 1970s and has declined since 2000. The researchers—a global consortium of 800 scientists in collaboration with the World Health Organisation—say this is partly due to falling nutritional standards.
This follows news last month that death rates were rising in the US and Britain, probably because of cuts to vital services.
Capitalism is not the solution—it’s the problem.