Piketty and 100 researchers: inequality is getting worse, and will continue to worsen

The World Inequality Lab -- led by Thomas "Capital in the 21st Century" Piketty -- has published its 2018 World Inequality Report, summarizing the research of 100 academics around the world who investigate and document capital flows from 1980 onward.

The overall picture is a familiar one, in which the lion's share of increased global prosperity goes to the benefit of the 0.001%, 76,000 people who captured 4% of the world's capital gains since 1980. The bottom 50%, meanwhile, did not participate in that increased prosperity at all.

The researchers predict that the inequality will continue to grow, with the share of the world's wealth owned by the top 1% growing from 20% to 24% by 2050, which means that the share controlled by the bottom 50% would shrink from 10% to less than 9%. They prescribe a global wealth tax and a crackdown on tax-havens as the only means of addressing this mounting inequality.

II. What are our new findings on global income inequality?

We show that income inequality has increased in nearly all world regions in recent decades, but at different speeds. The fact that inequality levels are so different among countries, even when countries share similar levels of development, highlights the important roles that national policies and institutions play in shaping inequality.

Income inequality varies greatly across world regions. It is lowest in Europe and highest in the Middle East.

Inequality within world regions varies greatly. In 2016, the share of total national income accounted for by just that nation’s top 10% earners (top 10% income share) was 37% in Europe, 41% in China, 46% in Russia, 47% in US-Canada, and around 55% in sub-Saharan Africa, Brazil, and India. In the Middle East, the world’s most unequal region according to our estimates, the top 10% capture 61% of national income .

In recent decades, income inequality has increased in nearly all countries, but at different speeds, suggesting that institutions and policies matter in shaping inequality.

Since 1980, income inequality has increased rapidly in North America, China, India, and Russia. Inequality has grown moderately in Europe (Figure E2a). From a broad historical perspective, this increase in inequality marks the end of a postwar egalitarian regime which took different forms in these regions.

World Inequality Report 2018 [World Inequality Lab]

World's richest 0.1% have boosted their wealth by as much as poorest half [Rupert Neate/The Guardian]

(via Naked Capitalism)