Income inequality

Land of unequals

Print edition : January 19, 2018
India figures among countries with rapidly increasing income inequality, a problem that urgently needs to be addressed through systemic transformations.

INCOME inequality worldwide has been widening at an alarming rate as a result of economic policies that favour the accumulation of private wealth to the detriment of public wealth, according to the World Inequality Report 2018, a collective effort published by the World Inequality Lab which harnesses the work of more than a hundred researchers scattered across the world.

One of the key findings of the report is that since 1980, income inequality has increased rapidly in North America, China, India and Russia and grown moderately in Europe.

In 2016, the share of total national income accounted for by the top 10 per cent of earners was 37 per cent in Europe, 41 per cent in China, 46 per cent in Russia, 47 per cent in the United States and Canada, and around 55 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa, Brazil, and India. West Asia was the world’s most unequal region according to the report, with an estimated 61 per cent of the national income captured by the top 10 per cent.

For 2014, India’s national income distribution saw the bottom 50 per cent of the adult population, numbering nearly 40 crore, account for just 15 per cent of the total national income, while the top 10 per cent numbering close to eight crore captured 54.2 per cent. The top 1 per cent earned 21.7 per cent, an indication of how skewed the earnings profile of working Indian adults is.

While the average annual income (converted from 2016 purchasing power parity euros) was Rs.1,42,600, it bears to mention that the bottom 50 per cent made only Rs.43,700 a year while the figure for the top 1 per cent was nearly Rs.31 lakh.

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