OECD inequality report: how do different countries compare?

Guardian 5 Dec 2011
Inequality across the world is rising fast, says a new report out today from the OECD which shows it getting worse. It is getting worse in the US, where the country’s inequality score has risen in recent years. The report says:

There was a rise in the share of top-income recipients in total gross income in the three decades from 1980 to 2010 in all countries, with considerable variation from country to country. It was most marked in the United States: prior to the onset of the financial and economic crisis in 2008, the share of the richest 1% in all income reached close to 20%. However, it was also large in a number of other English-speaking countries (Australia, Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom). Elsewhere, increases tended to be greater in the Scandinavian and Mediterranean countries than in Continental European countries

It’s particularly bad in the UK where the average income of the richest 10% of earners in the UK was almost twelve times that of the bottom 10% of the population by 2008, up from eight times in 1985 and above the European ratio of nine to one.

Randeep Ramesh writes today that even in countries thought of as more equal, the position is worsening.

The report makes clear that even in countries viewed as “fairer” – such as Germany, Denmark and Sweden – this pay gap between rich and poor is expanding: from five to one in the 1980s to six to one today. In the rising powers of Brazil, Russia, India and China the ratio is an alarming 50 to one.