Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hey We Could Be Lesotho

I mentioned yesterday new census numbers that showed median household income rising slightly in 2006 despite wages for each earner decreasing slightly for the 3rd consecutive year.

Kevind Drum points out that not all wages decreased actually. Wages near the bottom fell and wages near the top increased. What does that mean? It means our income inequality number (Gini) continues to rise. It is up 3.3% in the past 10 years as a matter of fact.

If the CIA's Gini numbers are correct, and assuming all other countries were stationary, that would move us from 83rd out of 118 measured countries to 86th out 118 measured countries. We're sandwiched right between the Dominican Republic and the Philippines.

Now I understand the argument that we are still the richest nation in the world, and that income equality sucks if it means everyone is poor. On the other hand, while we are actually 9th (out of 229) in per capita GDP, the top 5 in Gini coefficient average a not too shappy 37th place (and Norway who is 6th in both stats just misses the cut), while the block of 5 countries of which we would be the center would average out to 108th.

That is some pretty rudimentary statistical figuring to be sure. But is it possible to look at the numbers and not, at the very least, think about where we are headed.

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