OECD: In it together: why less inequality benefits all … in Australia


In It Together: Why Less Inequality Benefits All … in Australia, OECD, 21 May 2015

This is the Australia-oriented summary takeout from a broader OECD project. The material at the link includes graphs on income inequality trends and a comparison between countries.

The OECD work is at least the sixth report on inequality in Australia in the last year or so. The most recent local one (CEDA) is here, with a link to the earlier ones and to other resources on inequality .

The OECD headlines for Australia:

  • The degree of income inequality in Australia is similar to other OECD countries. In Australia, the average income of the top 10 per cent of income earners is almost 9 times higher than that of the bottom 10 per cent, up from 8 to 1 in the mid-1990s.
  • Australian poverty rates are slightly above the OECD average but have not increased since 2007.
  • Wealth inequality in Australia is just below the OECD average. In Australia, the top 10 per cent own 45 per cent of wealth (compared with half of all wealth on average across the OECD), while the bottom quintile (20 per cent) owns 17 per cent of all wealth.

The OECD discusses reasons for the trend in Australia, including women’s employment, male-female pay differentials, and non-standard work, such as part-time, casual and contract (Australia has a high incidence, compared with the OECD average).

In Australia, the bulk of increase in market income inequality in the past 15 years is due to the widening of the earnings dispersion. This was due to a large decline in hours worked for low-paid men and a larger increase in hourly wages of highly-paid men.

Media coverage of the report in Australia was minimal, with The New Daily being a notable exception.


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