According to World Inequality Report 2018, Income inequality in India has reached historically high levels with share of national income accruing to India’s top 1% earners touching 22% in 2014, while share of top 10% was around 56%. The report was released by World Inequality Lab (WIL), an organisation that aims to promote research on global inequality dynamics.
Findings of report
Since 1980, richest 1% captured twice as much as poorest 50% of world population. In other words, since 1980, 27% of all new income worldwide was captured by richest 1%, while poorest 50% captured only 13% of growth.
Inequality trends vary so greatly among countries even when countries share similar levels of development. This highlights important role of national policies in shaping inequality. For instance since 1980, China has recorded much higher growth rates with significantly lower inequality levels than India.
Since 1980, income inequality has increased rapidly in North America, India, China and Russia while growing moderately in Europe. However, in sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East, Brazil income inequality has remained relatively stable but at extremely high levels.
Factors fuelling the inequality within countries and at global level include combination of privatisations and increasing income inequality. Private capital is increasingly concentrated among a few individuals.
Deregulation and opening-up of reforms in India since 1980s have led to substantial increase in inequality. In 2014, top 0.1% of earners have continued to capture more growth than all those in bottom 50% combined in India.
The bottom 50% now has about 15% share in the total income. This rising inequality contrasts to 30 years following country’s Independence in 1947, when income inequality was widely reduced and incomes of bottom 50% grew at faster rate than national average.
The global income and wealth inequality will steadily rise if countries continue to follow same trajectory they have been on since 1980, despite strong growth in emerging countries. There is need for more ambitious policies to democratize access to education and well-paying jobs in rich and emerging countries alike.