International Income Distribution Statistics

GREEN: Countries ranking first or second in statistic
RED: Countries ranking last or second to last in statistic

The United States rank last in child income poverty, has the largest difference in P90/P10, and has the highest percentage of people living below 50% median income.

  Gini Index Middle income group Poverty rate with poverty line at 50% P90/P10 Percent of population below poverty line Child income poverty Index of Health and Social Problems ranking Income inequality after taxes ranking Human Poverty Index
Australia 35 42 .14 4.5   10.9 10 10 12.0
Canada 33 47 .12 4.1 9.4 13.3 7 8 11.2
Denmark 28 62 .06 2.9 12.1 6.5 5 4 7.7
France 32 57 .08 3.6 6.2 8.8 9 7 11.0
Germany 28 53 .09 3.6 15.5 8.5 8 5 10.1
Italy 34 52 .13 4.3   15.9 6 9 29.8
Japan 24   .16 5.2 15.7 14.9 1 1 11.6
Netherlands 26 63 .08 3.4 10.5% 6.1 3 6 7.4
Norway 23 69 .08 2.9   6.1 4 2 6.6
Sweden 25 57 .09 3.3   7.3 2 3 6.0
United Kingdom 34 50 .10 4.1 14.0 12.1 11 11 14.6
United States 43 52 .17 6.1 12.0 23.1 12 12 15.2

Sources:

View ILO report

Gini Index View Graphical Data

Gini index: World of Work Report 2013, PDF p. 30. Scores approximated from illustrated graph figures. The Gini index is a commonly used statistical measure of income distribution. Zero is absolute equality and 100 is absolute inequality. As typically applied to income distribution, values range from the 20s to the 40s. Japan has the most equal distribution of income and the US has the most unequal distribution. For 2011, except except for Canada and Sweden (2000), Australia (1994), and Japan (1993) which are all cited from HDR 2007/2008.

Size of middle class View Graphical Data

Middle income group: Those who earn 70-150% of equivalised median income as a share of total population. For 2009, except Norway (2008); Australia, Canada, and France (2005).

View OECD statistics

Poverty rate with poverty line at 50% View Graphical Data

after taxes and transfers, for 2010. See also, "Income gap widens in wealthiest nations," Oct 2008.

P90/P10 View Graphical Data

Ratio of the upper bound value of the ninth decile (i.e. the 10% of people with highest income) to that of the upper bound value of the first decile, for 2010.

View Nation Master economic statisticsView Graphical Data

Germany for 2010, Canada for 2008, Denmark and Japan for 2007, United Kingdom for 2006, Netherlands for 2005, France and US for 2004; from CIA World Factbook.

View UNICEF child poverty reportView Graphical Data

UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre Report Card 10, for . Percentage of children (aged 0 to 17) who are living in relative poverty, dened as living in a household in which disposable income, when adjusted for family size and composition, is less than 50% of the national median income, for 2009, Japan for 2011.

View Ritterman article

From Wilkinson and Pickett, The Spirit Level, 2009, United Nations Development Program as cited by Jeff Ritterman in "Equality and Health," 2009. Jeff Ritterman writes that countries with a smaller gap in income equality have a longer life expectancy as well as better quality of life. Ritterman suggests raising minimum wage, improving worker benefits, better financial backing for education, and universal health coverage as measures to narrow the income distribution gap. Ritterman contends that not only would this increase quality of life and life expectancy, but also would have other beneficial effects, like the environment. Statistically, more equal societies take better care of the earth.

Index of Health and Social Problems ranking View Graphical Data

Income inequality after taxes ranking View Graphical Data

View HDR 2009View Graphical Data

As reported by the Human Development Report 2009, the following statistics accounted for each country's score (presented here as a percent): probability at birth of not surviving to age 60 (2000-2005), people lacking functional literacy skills, long-term unemployment (2007), and population living under 50% of median income (2000-2005). The Human Poverty Index is now called the Multidimensional Poverty Index and is handled by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative which has chosen to no longer include advanced democracies in its study.

Notes:

"GRAPH: Income Inequality In U.S. Worse Than Ivory Coast, Pakistan, Ethiopia," Zaid Jilani

May 4, 2011. The United States' inequality numbers are at their worst since the Great Depression based on statistics from The CIA World Factbook which used research from the GINI Index. Based on these numbers, the United States economic equality is comparable to Uganda's.

"The Politics of Helping the Poor; Social Spending and Poverrty," Lane Kentworthy

June 7, 2010. Author Lane Kentworthy observes that the U.S. easily outspends Western European countries like Denmark and Sweden in gross public social expenditures as a a share of GDP and net public and private social expenditures per person, yet has difficulty in executing a transition for these accumulated funds in effectively assisting the poor and raising their living standard. Kentworthy attributes this to tax breaks in the U.S. assisting the wealthy and the lack of government transfers ending up in the bottom income decile.

World of Work Report 2013, International Labour Organization

"In the United States, the size of the middle-income group declined between 2007 and 2010 from 52.5 per cent to 51per cent, continuing a trend observed in the previous three decades. While job polarization has been found to have contributed to this decline to some extent (Acemoglu and Autor, 2011) important institutional changes also occurred during this period. The already low trade union density declined from 12.9 per cent in 2001 to 11.3 per cent in 2011 and the union coverage rate fell from 14.5 per cent in 2002 to 13.1 per cent in 2010. As middle-wage earners are more likely to be union members, the erosion of trade unions might have contributed to the decline of the middle-income group (Card et. al, 2003). At the same time, the top personal tax rate declined from 39.6 per cent to 35 per cent between 2000 and 2010, allowing the post-tax income distribution to skew more towards high-income brackets. Finally, although the United States' employment protection legislation index remained stable during the past decade, it is one of the lowest among advanced countries (0.21)."

"Income gap widens in wealthiest nations," Emma Vandore and Greg Keller

October 21, 2008

"United States Remains One of the Least Taxed Industrial Countries," Citizens for Tax Justice

November 11, 2010. In a 30 country study conducted over 20 years, the OECD has found that 27 of the coutnries studied have experienced an increase in income inequality. Of the 30 countries studied, the United States ranks ahead of only Mexico and Turkey.

"Helping the Poor, the British Way," Paul Krugman

December 25, 2006. Suggests that Tony Blair and the Labor Party's specific and direct policy action has closed the income distribution gap in the U.K. much more effectively than the Bush administration's broad promises which often lacked follow through.

Needed:

Per capita social spending by government (health, education, social services)

Size of middle class

Weeks of paid maternity leave