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5.17.02
Politics and Economy:
Losing Ground: Global Inequality
More on This Story:
According to recent studies, the top one percent — the wealthiest among us — are getting richer and richer. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OCED) has found the United States to be the most unequal society of all industrialized nations. The very rich are getting richer while wages, benefits, and working conditions for workers at the bottom continue to decrease in comparison. Worldwide, the story is the same. A 2002 study by the World Bank found inequality growing not only between nations, but within nations.

The wealthy industrialized countries listed below are ranked using the Gini coefficient. The Gini coefficient is the standard equation used by economists to determine economic equality among and within nations. Note: Although the U.S. ranks last among OECD nations in terms of income equality, in 1993 the poorest 10% of the U.S. population was still wealthier than two-thirds of the rest of the world.

Below wealthy countries are ranked from most equal to most unequal using the Gini coefficient. Also included are the percentage of total disposable income held by the wealthiest (top 30%) and poorest (bottom 30%) of each nation's population.

Losing Ground - Global Inequality

Denmark: Total disposable income held by the wealthiest
and poorest:
 48.3%
 13.8%
Sweden: Total disposable income held by the wealthiest and
poorest:
 45.8%
 15.8%
Finland: Total disposable income held by the wealthiest and
poorest:
 45.6%
 17.0%
Norway: Total disposable income held by the wealthiest and
poorest:
 46.1%
 16.3%
Netherlands: Total disposable income held by the wealthiest and
poorest:
 46.3%
 15.8%
Japan: Total disposable income held by the wealthiest and
poorest:
 n/a
Germany: Total disposable income held by the wealthiest and
poorest:
 48.9%
 14.7%
Canada: Total disposable income held by the wealthiest and
poorest:
 49.2%
 14.3%
France: Total disposable income held by the wealthiest and
poorest:
 49.0%
 15.6%
Belgium: Total disposable income held by the wealthiest and
poorest:
 48.3%
 15.5%
Australia: Total disposable income held by the wealthiest and
poorest:
 49.3%
 13.8%
Italy: Total disposable income held by the wealthiest and poorest:  53.2%
 12.0%
United States: Total disposable income held by the wealthiest and poorest:  52.5%
 11.8%

Source for statistics: OECD Reports: Income Distribution and Poverty in 13 OECD Countries; 2000. Other sources: The World Bank; THE ECONOMIST

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