Worldwide inequality grows as richest 0.1% grab more wealth

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The latest data thus shows that during the first decade after the millennium, the share of national income attributable to the top 1% grew to be larger than that pertaining to the bottom 50%.

The World Inequality Report 2018 is based on a massive, interactive collection of data compiled by an worldwide team of researchers that includes renowned economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez.

"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.

Global wealth inequality looks set to continue its current trajectory if global economic policies remain in place, said the organisation. But by 2016, the top 1 percent in Europe held a 12 percent income share, compared with 20 percent in the U.S.

The research relies on the most extensive database on the historical evolution of income and wealth inequality.

The world's richest person is Amazon's founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos, who has a $98.8bn (£73.9bn) fortune, according to the Bloomberg billionaires index. That is equivalent to one-sixth of the UK's GDP. "In 2014, 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%", the report said.

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The gap between rich and poor has increased in nearly every region of the world over the last four decades, according to a report published Thursday.

The economists, led by Piketty who shot to global fame after the publication of his book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, said there was a "huge gap" in wealth between the richest people in the United Kingdom and everyone else in the country. There, the bottom 50 percent earn almost 22 percent of the income in those economies, while the top 1 percent take in just over 12 percent of the money. The report also stated rise in income inequality in India has been more gradual since 1980. "These three regions never went through the postwar egalitarian regime and have always been at the world's high-inequality frontier".

The new data comes from a comprehensive survey of global inequality released Thursday by the World Inequality Lab. At the same time, the share of global income going to the bottom 50 percent rose slightly, to just under 10 percent, thanks to gains in populous, fast-growing China and India.

"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", said Lucas Chancel, general co-ordinator of the report.

"Progressive tax rates do not only reduce post-tax inequality, they also diminish pre-tax inequality by giving top earners less incentive to capture higher shares of growth via aggressive bargaining for pay rises and wealth accumulation".

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