Still the lucky country?

16 Jun 2014

Over the past 30 years the gap between the rich and the poor has increased rapidly in a majority of the world’s countries. Oxfam has previously reported that inequality is so severe that the 85 richest people in the world own the same as half of the world’s population — 3.5 billion people. In a matter of months, that number has reduced to just 66. This increasing inequality is evident in all but four G20 member countries and Australia is no exception. The richest 1% of Australians owns the same wealth as the bottom 60%. Australia’s richest person owns more than the bottom 10% of the population combined (2.27 million people) and the nine richest individuals have a net worth of US $54.8 billion, more than the bottom 20% (4.54 million people). Income inequality in Australia has been on the rise since the mid 1990s, despite all sections of Australian society experiencing some increase in income during the same period. In 1995, Australia had an average level of inequality compared to other wealthy OECD member countries. Today, we are below average, having become less equal than our peers despite having a better-performing economy than most.

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