Oxfam Says Income Inequality In Australia Is The Worst Its Ever Been

income inequality

Since the global financial crisis, the number of Australian billionaires has doubled, rising from 14 in 2008 to 33 in 2017. During the same period of time, the average Australian household’s wealth increased by just 12 per cent, with wage growth declining to its lowest level on record and failing to keep up with the rising cost of living. Despite efforts by the government to depict Australia as a country where income inequality is not a problem, Oxfam Australia recently released a report which found quite the opposite, that in fact, income inequality is on the rise.

The rich get richer

The report was released last month to coincide with the annual World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland where every year, the global elite meet. The report used data from Credit Suisse which showed that that richest 1 per cent of Australians controlled 23 per cent of the country’s wealth in 2017 and top 1 per cent owned more than the bottom 70 per cent combined. The Oxfam report emphasises the fact that income inequality in Australia has been steadily growing over the last twenty years and the gap between the wealthiest 1 per cent and the bottom 50 per cent is now the widest it has ever been over this time period.

Australia ranks poorly compared to other developed countries

Income inequality in Australia compares poorly with other developed economies that make up the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. According to a recent OECD data in 2014 the Gini coefficient which is a measure of income inequality was 0.33 (A score of 0 represents complete equality and 1.00 total inequality) putting Australian 22 out of 35 OECD countries in terms of income inequality. The Oxfam report adds that during 2017 the number of Australian billionaires increased and wealth rose by the most since the start of the century.

Broken economic system

The total wealth held by Australian billionaires increased by $38 billion in 2017 which is enough to finance had of Australia’s public health budget during 2016-2017.  Dr Helen Szoke Oxfam Australia chief executive says the organisation is committed to tackling poverty and inequality. Unfortunately, the economic system appears to be broken with increasing amounts of wealth being concentrated in fewer hands whilst ordinary people continue to struggle just to survive.

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