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13 June, 2021
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HomeBecomingWhere the Rich Are Getting Richer Around the World

Where the Rich Are Getting Richer Around the World

How income inequality compares globally.

The World Inequality Database, built by an international network of more than 100 academics, including Thomas Piketty and Nobel Prize winner Abhijit Banerjee, makes it possible to compare income inequality in 173 countries.

The estimates are based on a mix of sources, including tax data, surveys, and national and other statistics.

Globalization and other trends have inflated the top 1%’s share of the pie in most places.

Launched in 2011, the database was recently expanded to add dozens of nations, bringing total coverage to 97% of the world’s population.

The new data give a richer picture of how inequality varies among countries. Globalization and other trends have inflated the top 1%’s share of the pie in most places, including Mexico and India, but in Austria, Vietnam, and elsewhere, government policies and trends such as a growing middle class have kept inequality in check.

The chart below shows 53 countries that the database rates as having higher-quality estimates.

Because the latest numbers are from 2019, we can’t yet see how recent events such as the pandemic, soaring stock markets, and unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus have affected income gaps.

India’s upper-middle class did well, with the top 10%’s share rising faster than almost anywhere else.

Mexico’s top 1% gained ground while the rest of the top 10% saw its share of income shrink.

In the U.S., the top 1% earns almost 40% more than the bottom half of the population.

China’s rapid growth helped the highest earners pull away from the bottom 50%, who saw their share shrink.

Nations included are those tracked by the World Inequality Database with a transparency score higher than 4.

Data: World Inequality Database

Source: Bloomberg, March 11, 2021

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