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Income Inequality Seen as World's Biggest Risk Over Next 10 Years

The World Economic Forum says the most likely risk facing the world over the next 10 years is a big difference between rich and poor. The estimate was made in a new report called the World Economic Forum's Global Risks 2013.

Food availability and the spread of terrorism are noted every year. But new risks, especially technological and economic ones, are getting more attention. The report was based on surveys of more than 1,000 experts from around the world. They considered the likelihood and impact of risks should they become reality.

Sharp income disparity was considered the most likely problem to take place in the next 10 years. This is the second straight year that a wealth gap was named. Next was what the report called "chronic fiscal imbalances," or the failure of governments to deal with heavy debt over time.

The risk said to have the biggest possible impact was a major failure in the world financial system, like the collapse of a top institution or currency. But experts rated a water supply crisis as second on the list of high-impact risks. How the experts change their opinions is also something to note.

This year, the mismanagement of the aging population moved from the 18th to the fifth most likely threat. The failure to deal with the costs and social issues involved with an aging population is now considered a risk with much greater potential impact. There were also extreme possibilities. The report called these "X Factors." They include the likelihood of our climate going out of control, and even the discovery of alien life.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Laurel Bowman. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 18Jan2013)