The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development confirmed this week that the gap between the rich and poor in most of the world’s advanced economies is at record levels.
In most of the 34 countries that make up the OECD, the income gap is at its highest level in over three decades, with the richest 10 percent of the population earning 9.6 times the income of the poorest 10 percent.
In the late 1980s this stood at 7 to 1, the OECD said in a report.
The wealth gap is even greater, with the top 1 percent owning 18 percent and the 40 percent only 3 percent of household wealth as of 2012. This trend has likely gotten worse over the past three years but will not be available until the next report is published.
“We have reached a tipping point. Inequality in OECD countries is at its highest since records began,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria.
A more troubling fact, which is exposed by this inequality, is control of assets. The study shows that basically all the world’s assets are exclusively controlled by the top 10%. As for the bottom 10%, 50% and even 90%? They have now assets at all and instead “liabilities.”
The report draws parallels to medieval serfdom, where rich landowners controlled the entire asset base while the majority of the population was forced to work the land for meager wages.