Home > Uncategorized > Share of wealth held by the bottom 90% by country

Share of wealth held by the bottom 90% by country

Graph depicting Share of Wealth Held by the Bottom 90%

Sources: Credit Suisse (aggregating data from national records)
Last updated: May 12, 2016

  1. deshoebox
    April 19, 2019 at 4:35 pm

    How beautiful! How refreshing!! The exquisitely balanced mechanism of the global predatory white supremacist patriarchal capitalist system working exactly as it is supposed to work. Would you mind putting up a chart showing the share of wealth held by the bottom 70 percent of the population by country? We have a bet going on over here that the bar representing the US on the 70-percent chart would not actually be visible.

  2. Ikonoclast
    April 20, 2019 at 1:37 am

    Why is Australia not on this graph? An argument could be made that it is not important enough. However, the appearance of Cyprus and New Zealand would seem to undermine that argument. More generally, the graph seems to illustrate that the southern hemisphere is of no account… except for N.Z. which appears for some reason, maybe because it has the cute Kiwi bird. How is this fair? Australia has the cute Koala. ;)

    Is Australia to the right of Slovakia on the graph? This is possible I suppose but I doubt it.

    My basic hypothesis is that the southern hemisphere is generally considered, by the denizens of the northern hemisphere, to be of no account and worth ignoring. I agree on the second count. Please continue ignoring us. Please forget about us entirely. That will actually make us a bit safer. ;)

    The above is just a bit of irony. But, as Freud said, every joke has a little truth in it. It is clear that the geographic global north suffers from its own kind of self-centric vision about what and who are important. Three inhabited continents are ignored in this graph, being in turn one wholly, one substantially and one partly in the southern hemisphere. The hemispheric south is important ecologically, too. Think of the ocean and forest based bio-services from the southern hemisphere. Again, ignoring the hemispheric south is the best thing for these bio-services. It is a pity though about the predatory fishing and logging of the geographic south driven mainly by northern hemisphere interests.

    • B.L. Zebub
      April 20, 2019 at 7:22 am

      Chile is in southern hemisphere… What was that about irony and Freudian jokes? :-)

  3. Ikonoclast
    April 20, 2019 at 10:52 pm

    I missed Chile was in there to be honest. Why Chile but not Brazil? Why New Zealand but not Australia? Why India and China but not Russia and Brazil? I am just wondering what were the criteria for selection? There is a pattern to some selections and others are seemingly quite random.

    Without consistent criteria for selection of the sample I wonder how representative and representational the sample might be. Was it the case that those countries which had the easiest (or any) data to access were selected? Was any assessment made of how reliable a country’s data was before the country was included? Was any meta-assessment made of how reliable GDP data itself is? I doubt it.

    At the same time, I am not completely cynical about the data. The US data is certainly reflecting the high inequality in the US. But how would a country look on the graph if it was being kept uniformly poor by foreign investors? It would show a better share of wealth held by the bottom 90% of the country. I am not keen on graphs without commentary and without information about how the data was collected, how reliable or unreliable the data might be, criteria for representation and so on.

  4. Helen Sakho
    April 23, 2019 at 3:00 am

    According to Paul Krugman (quoted I believe in the New York Times yesterday) the vast majority of Americans would not be able to afford an emergency bill of $400, if it hit them today. I think it is clear that such situations would never arise if there was not a long history of neglect, generalised poverty and denial by the super rich that polarisation does not happen overnight. The figure in other geographies does not even reach $4.

  5. Ken Zimmerman
    April 28, 2019 at 11:46 am

    Inequality in human societies has always existed. When it become extreme (that point varies by society and historical circumstances) the society either collapses completely (e.g., revolution, war, failure of basic services, famine) or undergoes changes in its basic framework. Ancient Rome, for example, nearly collapsed when corruption in government and economics (particularly appalling poverty) combined with refusal of its citizens (particularly the wealthy) to put themselves at risk by organizing to defend it from invading societies (e.g., Goths, Celts). The near collapse extended over three centuries. And even at the end of that time much of Roman culture survived within other societies. Later, the English turned ancient Greek and Roman cultures into idealized prototypes for their empire.

    Since the 1980s the dominant perspective about inequality among anthropologists is undoubtedly towards an action-oriented approach: that is, seeing inequality and similar topics not as something to be merely studied, but as a social evil to be eradicated. The role of the anthropologist is more than dispassionate observer (as in traditional fieldwork methods), but as the analyst of the sociological, cultural, ecological and other factors involved in creating the event of inequality, and recommending strategies to eradicate inequality while causing, wherever possible, the least socio-cultural damage. The anthropologist may even become a partisan committed to the destruction of inequality, by political means if necessary. In this work anthropologists attempt to reflect on what others who work with inequality consider separate aspects of the event. These “separate” aspects include, (i) the perceptions, strategies, feelings and life-ways of those who suffer inequality; (ii) the structural features of the society and economy within which inequality is encapsulated; and (iii) the policy-makers, planners, economists, social workers and other agencies who mediate, or attempt to, between those trapped by inequality and those who study, assist, or are legally responsible for controlling the “losers” in inequality (e.g., police, social workers, teachers). This “holistic” approach enables us to dispense with the notion that inequality has only one history, one way of being created. For example (and popularly), cultural constraints on saving and capital formation such as feasting or partying. The reverse is just as possible. Inequality creates a social environment in which consumption rather than accumulation is necessary, and that often the whole syndrome is linked to such factors as disruption of a traditional economy by the appearance of wage-labor, labor markets, discriminatory schooling, landlessness, caste or gang affiliation, unemployment, etc. Both directly and indirectly.

    Anthropologists take the position that there is no acceptable level of inequality within a society. Unlike economists who often argue that some level of inequality encourages people to work harder and is thus beneficial for society. But anthropologists also accept that actual societies will create some level of inequality. So, the issue is how to deal with “inequality on the ground.” First, anthropologists want government designed policies intended to reduce inequality. For example, by reducing the wealth of the wealthiest in a society and increasing the wealth of the poorest in that same society. These can be direct (what economists call redistribution) or indirect (reducing the effects of unequal circumstances on the opportunities and outcomes of the next generation). Also important are efforts to enhance citizens’ beliefs in their abilities to succeed along with efforts to alter socialization to focus less on competition and more on cooperation for that success. Finally, if a holistic approach to understanding inequality is necessary, so is a holistic approach to doing something about it. This implies the involvement of those affected by inequality and by mitigation programs. In other words, those effected by unequal circumstances or structures are not just ‘clients’ or ‘subjects’ but active participants in their own futures and in determining the sorts of policies towards them that they find just, efficient and culturally acceptable. The anthropologist is, or should be, uniquely placed to help in this situation, which is really a process of communication and socialization, the focus of every anthropologist.

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