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In It Together: Why Less Inequality Benefits All

image of In It Together: Why Less Inequality Benefits All

The gap between rich and poor keeps widening. Growth, if any, has disproportionally benefited higher income groups while lower income households have been left behind. This long-run increase in income inequality not only raises social and political concerns, but also economic ones. It tends to drag down GDP growth, due to the rising distance of the lower 40% from the rest of society. Lower income people have been prevented from realising their human capital potential, which is bad for the economy as a whole. This book highlights the key areas where inequalities are created and where new policies are required, including: the consequences of current consolidation policies; structural labour market changes with rising non-standard work and job polarization; persisting gender gaps; the challenge of high wealth concentration, and the role for redistribution policies.

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Executive summary

In most countries, the gap between rich and poor is at its highest level since 30 years. Today, in OECD countries, the richest 10% of the population earn 9.6 times the income of the poorest 10%. In the 1980s, this ratio stood at 7:1 rising to 8:1 in the 1990s and 9:1 in the 2000s. In several emerging economies, particularly in Latin America, income inequality has narrowed, but income gaps remain generally higher than in OECD countries. During the crisis, income inequality continued to increase, mainly due to the fall in employment; redistribution through taxes and transfer partly offset inequality. However, at the lower end of the income distribution, real household incomes fell substantially in countries hit hardest by the crisis.

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