The gap between rich and poor in OECD countries has reached its highest level for over over 30 years, and governments must act quickly to tackle inequality, according to a new OECD report. “Divided We Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising” finds that the average income of the richest 10% is now about nine times that of the poorest 10 % across the OECD. The income gap has risen even in traditionally egalitarian countries, such as Germany, Denmark and Sweden, from 5 to 1 in the 1980s to 6 to 1 today. The gap is 10 to 1 in Italy, Japan, Korea and the United Kingdom, and higher still, at 14 to 1 in Israel, Turkey and the United States. In Chile and Mexico, the incomes of the richest are still more than 25 times those of the poorest, the highest in the OECD, but have finally started dropping. Income inequality is much higher in some major emerging economies outside the OECD area. At 50 to 1, Brazil’s income gap remains much higher than in many other countries, although it has been falling significantly over the past decade.
(a) OECD -An Overview of Growing Income Inequalities in OECD Countries: Main Findings, 5 12 2011 25 pp. This overview summarises the key findings of the analytical chapters of this report. It sketches a brief portrait of increasing income inequality in OECD countries and the potential driving forces behind it. It reviews changes in these driving forces and examines their relative impact on inequality. In particular, it looks at the role of globalisation and technological changes, regulatory reforms in labour and product markets, changing household structures, and changes in tax and benefit regulations. It assesses what governments can do about increasing inequality and concludes by examining possible specific policy avenues
(b) OECD – Special Focus: Inequality in Emerging Economies (EEs) 5 12 2011 36 pp Emerging countries are playing a growing role in the world economy. It is a role that is expected to be even greater in the future. It is important, therefore, that any comprehensive assessment of inequality trends worldwide considers the emerging economies. This chapter discusses inequality patterns and related issues in the biggest emerging economies. It begins with a brief overview of such patterns in selected countries, before going on to examine in greater detail the main drivers of inequality. The following section outlines the key features and challenges of underlying institutional settings. Finally, the chapter sets out some key policy challenges that the emerging economies need to address to improve income distribution and curb inequalities, while promoting more and better jobs.
– a Media brief (in English): a 4-pager summarizing key issues (trends, causes, policies) for journalists
– Country Notes for G7
– the OECD speech
– the press release
– a video on trends in inequality
– access to database