A Look At Income Inequality Around the World: It’s a Choice, Not a Destiny

The World Inequality Database is out with its 2018 report, and of course not much has changed. After all, how much could it change in a single year? Still, we don’t often venture outside the US when we talk about income inequality, so it’s worth taking a look around the world occasionally. First up, here is the US vs. Europe:

Income inequality has grown in Europe, but not nearly as dramatically as in the US. In both places, the rich started out with roughly a 10 percent share of national income, but by 2016 that had increased to only 12 percent in Europe while it skyrocketed to 20 percent in the US. Likewise, the middle class in Europe started out with a 24 percent share of income and now have 22 percent. The American middle class can only dream of such largesse. They started out with a lower share of income than their European comrades and have since plummeted to about 13 percent. Obviously, growing inequality isn’t inevitable: it’s the result of very deliberate policy choices

Now let’s widen our view even more and look at the entire world:

The Middle East, Brazil, and Africa started out with the highest inequality in the world, but at least they’ve come down a bit since 1990. Russian income inequality skyrocketed in the 90s when Boris Yeltsin and his American advisors basically gave away the entire country to the oligarchs. India went crazy starting around 1990, while income inequality in China and the US has been steadily increasing the entire time, kicked off by Ronald Reagan in the US and Deng Xiaoping in China. Meanwhile, only Europe has made a real effort to rein in the effects of globalization, financialization, and liberated capital.

And speaking of liberated capital, check out this chart:

Public capital has shrunk nearly to zero nearly everywhere since 1970. In fact, it’s shrunk to less than zero in the US and Britain. So who has all the capital now? Private wealth holders, of course.

You can download the full report here, or the executive summary here, in English, French, or Chinese.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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