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  • Economic inequality is the state of affairs in which assets, wealth, or income are distributed unequally among individuals in a group, among groups in a population, or among countries. The issue of economic inequality can implicate notions of equity, equality of outcome, and equality of opportunity. Opinions differ on the importance of economic inequality and its effects. Some studies have emphasized inequality as a growing social problem. While some inequality may promote investment, too much inequality may be destructive. Income inequality can hinder long term growth, but can also help long term growth. Statistical studies comparing inequality to year-over-year economic growth have been inconclusive; however in 2011, researchers from the International Monetary Fund published work which indicated that income equality increased the duration of countries' economic growth spells more than free trade, low government corruption, foreign investment, or low foreign debt. Economic inequality varies between societies, historical periods, economic structures and systems.