U.S. ranks last in income equality

Oct. 23, 2008 at 2:41 PM
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PARIS, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- Income inequality is highest in the United States, with the gap between rich and poor increasing most rapidly in Germany, a study found.

Since 2000 income inequality and poverty have grown faster in Germany than anywhere else in its 30 membership countries, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said at the launch of its "Growing Unequal?" study earlier this week in Paris.

The OECD criticizes the growing income gap in many countries all over the world.

"Ensuring growth for all, not just the rich, is the task we must set for ourselves," said Angel Gurria, the organization's secretary-general.

The poverty rate in Germany rose 5 points to 16 percent from 1995 until 2005, the study found. The share of Germans living below the poverty line in 2005 was greater than the OECD average; in the early 1990s it was a quarter below that average.

The United States is the country with the highest inequality level and poverty rate across the OECD, Mexico and Turkey excepted.

Since 2000 U.S. income inequality has increased rapidly, continuing a long-term trend that goes back to the 1970s, the study found.

The OECD said social mobility is lower in countries with high inequality -- singling out Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States -- and higher in the Nordic countries where income is distributed more evenly. Germany ranks in the middle of OECD countries when looking at social mobility.

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