Home > Uncategorized > The world’s most unequal countries

The world’s most unequal countries

  1. Steve McGiffen
    May 23, 2019 at 4:17 pm

    I am pretty certain this correlates with low rates of labor union membership, but don’t have time to confirm this right now. Does anyone out there have such a comparison ready-made?

  2. Patrick Newman
    May 23, 2019 at 4:50 pm

    With the exception of China, they are all democracies (loosely described and of variable integrity). Clearly, inequality is not the top issue which takes some explaining?

  3. lobdillj
    May 23, 2019 at 5:07 pm

    This seems wrong. The US share must be much greater than 42.1%, right?

  4. Ikonoclast
    May 23, 2019 at 11:55 pm

    The world’s five most populous nations plus the world’s 9th and 10th most populous nations are on this list. I guess this means the world is a very unequal place.

    Robert Michels’ “Iron Law of Oligarchy” probably explains the failure of democracy (“loosely described and of variable integrity”) to achieve equality. Michels eventually threw in his lot with the fascists. However, the validity of his thesis must stand or fall on empirical analysis of it alone not on the narrative of his personal trajectory.

    Democracy is broad and gives better chances than any other system but it has not solved the dilemma of the Iron Law of Oligarchy. If we termed the EU one federation, we might be able to show one polity to be in the top ten demographically but not in the top ten on this inequality. It does matter to an extent how one slices and dices the data.

    But overall, the human world is in a very parlous state. It is highly unequal. It is running an unsustainable techno-industrial system which is destroying the biosphere as a relatively benign livable space for homo sapiens and millions of other species. Trends which can’t continue, don’t. Global civilization is headed for collapse.

  5. Helen Sakho
    May 27, 2019 at 1:12 am

    Democracy has become practically meaningless. And with its near demise, civilisation will indeed be lost, unless urgent action is taken by theoreticians and activists TOGETHER.

  6. Paul
    June 2, 2019 at 1:32 pm

    I think this information is wrong. Please include a proper reference to the data source.

    For comparison see

    page 9, Figure 5:
    Share of top 1% of wealth holders since 2007, selected countries, % of wealth

    of the

    “Credit suisse Research Institute Global Wealth Report 2018”


    linked on the page


  7. Ken Zimmerman
    June 3, 2019 at 1:34 pm

    Even in the countries with the lowest numbers in Figure 5 of the Credit Suisse Report cited by Paul — Japan, France, Italy, United,Kingdom, and Canada — the top 1% of wealth holders still hold between 20% and 25% of the total wealth. In my mind this is unacceptable.

  8. Paul
    June 3, 2019 at 10:27 pm

    I checked the claimed data source. I can say that the diagram used in this blog post, labelled with “Independent, Statista” is clearly erroneous.

    According to the Credit Suisse data the “most unequal countries” as measured by the

    indicator “wealth share of the top 1%” are:

    #1 66,9 Thailand
    #2 57,1 Russia
    #3 54,4 Turkey
    #4 51,5 India
    #5 46,6 Indonesia
    #6 40,5 Colombia
    #7 40,1 Czech Republic
    #8 39,8 Mexico
    #9 36,7 Sweden
    #10 36,4 South Africa

    measured by the

    indicator “wealth share of the top 10%”

    the ranking goes as follows:

    #1 85,7 Thailand
    #2 81,8 Russia
    #3 81,2 Turkey
    #4 77,4 India
    #5 75,9 United States
    #6 75,3 Indonesia
    #7 74,9 Sweden
    #8 70,2 Colombia
    #9 70 Ireland
    #10 69,2 Mexico

    All this is according to the Credit suisse report. Data from the

    Credit Suisse Research institute Global Wealth Databook 2018 (PDF),

    page 156,

    Table 6-5: Wealth shares and minimum wealth of deciles and top percentiles for regions and selected countries, 2018

    with remark “Source: Original estimates; see text for explanation of methods.”


    linked on the page


  9. June 9, 2019 at 6:17 pm

    Thanks Editors, and Paul, I checked your corrections and agree so far. I wonder what the source of error is…since “The Independent” and “Statista” weigh in alongside Credit Swisse in the attributions at the top document here.

    James Galbraith has done a lot of work in this area, has an Oxford Univ. book on the subject, perhaps he can help.

    I’ve often felt that the 1% charge doesn’t quite fully paint the picture of wealth and power in the US and that the top 10 or even 20% captures the elite decision makers and institutional leaders necessary for the 1% to maintain power: to run the country, such as it is. The higher percentages, do also, I should note, in an informal sense, contain most of the left leaning reformers…culturally, certainly, but I suspect also, economically. Right Dean Baker?

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