Rich get richer: India’s top 0.1% increase wealth more than bottom 50% earners

Rich get richer: India’s top 0.1% increase wealth more than bottom 50% earners

Income inequality in India has reached historically high levels as the top 0.1% of earners increased their total wealth more than all of those in the bottom 50% combined, says a study.

Economic inequality is widespread in India and has been growing substantially since 1980s, the study by the World Inequality Lab said.

“The income inequality in India has reached historically high levels, as the top 0.1% of earners have captured more growth than all of those in the bottom 50% combined,” it said.

This rising inequality contrasts to the 30 years following the country’s independence in 1947, when income inequality was widely reduced and the incomes of the bottom 50% grew at a faster rate than the national average, it said.

The report was coordinated by economists Facundo Alvaredo, Lucas Chancel, Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman and shows unequal impacts of globalisation over past 40 years.

The research relies on the most extensive database on the historical evolution of income and wealth inequality. It aims to contribute to a more informed global democratic debate on economic inequality by bringing the most up-to-date and comprehensive data to the public discussion.

In 2014, the report said, the share of national income captured by India’s top 1% of earners was 22%, while the share of the top 10% of earners was around 56%.

Lucas Chancel, general coordinator of the report, emphasised, “The fact that inequality trends vary so greatly among countries, even when countries share similar levels of development, highlights the important role of national policies in shaping inequality.

“For instance, consider China and India since 1980: China recorded much higher growth rates with significantly lower inequality levels than India.”

Rich getting richer across the world

The report shows inequality stabilising at high levels in most countries, despite gains among the poor in China and much milder disparities in incomes and wealth in western Europe.

It shows inequality has soared since 1980 although the global top “1%” saw their share of global income slip slightly after the financial crisis, to just above 20%. It says inequality will likely widen in the future.

The data indicate the share of global income going to the bottom 50% has risen slightly in recent years, to 9.7 percent, thanks to gains in populous China and India

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