The UN's 2019 Human Development Report reveals how income inequality has been widening for decades, while highlighting a new generation of inequalities that are opening up
Income inequality across almost all European countries is higher today than it was at the start of the 1980s, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) reports, as it warned demonstrations sweeping the globe shows “something in our globalised society is not working”.
In its Human Development Report 2019 (HDR), the UN showed European countries have seen increases in the concentration of income for the richest in society, with those at the top benefiting most from income growth.
Rising inequality across Europe
By combining surveys, tax data and national accounts, the UNDP could track inequality dynamics for the whole of Europe. Its estimates show the top 10 percent pretax income earners received 29 percent of total regional income in 1980, rising to 34 percent in 2017.
The incomes of the top 0.1 percent of earners more than doubled during the period, and the incomes of the top 0.001 percent nearly tripled.
The bottom 50 percent received 24 percent of total regional income in 1980, but only 20 percent by 2017.
The outlook globally, according to the HDR, is that despite reductions in poverty, hunger, and disease, a new generation of inequalities is opening up.
The report says these new inequalities are around education, technology and climate change.
“Different triggers are bringing people onto the streets - the cost of a train ticket, the price of petrol, demands for political freedoms, the pursuit of fairness and justice. This is the new face of inequality, and as this Human Development Report sets out, inequality is not beyond solutions,” wrote UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner.
In a foreword to the HDR, he said: "The wave of demonstrations sweeping across countries is a clear sign that, for all our progress, something in our globalised society is not working."