The State of the World: The Rich Get Richer; The Poor Are Less Able to Buy Food
The share of income held by the richest people in 34 countries has grown sharply since 2010. At the same time, poor families in those countries are less able to buy food. Welcome to 2014!
The share of income held by the richest people in 34 countries has grown sharply since 2010. At the same time, poor families in those countries are on average less able to buy food. Welcome to 2014!
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has catalogued data on 25 indicators from those 34 countries for the past seven years, releasing an annual report called, "Society at a Glance." This year's edition offers unsurprising but humbling data about the economic state of the world.
The Washington Post's Christopher Ingraham pulled out the data on incomes, creating the graph at right. The top 10 percent of wage earners in the OECD countries take home nearly 50 percent of the world's income. The top 0.1 percent, that black line at the bottom, takes home nearly 10 percent of income. That includes the United States, of course, which skews the data upward somewhat. But it could be skewed more: the data don't include other wealth-generating systems Americans use, like capital gains.
Then there's the food issue. Few countries track food insecurity as robustly as does the United States, but the OECD uses data from the Gallup World Poll to estimate challenges in affording food. Between 2006/2007 and 2011/2012, the percentage of respondents in all 34 countries that said they weren't always able to afford food jumped from 11 percent to 13 percent — meaning, to spell it out, that more than one-in-ten families continue to be unable to do so. That's not uniform, of course. "Responses confirm that rising numbers of families in OECD countries may have less money to spend on food and a healthy diet," the report states. "By contrast, while large shares of people in the large emerging economies feel that they cannot afford adequate nutrition, their numbers have mostly declined since 2007."
You can see the breakdown in the maps below. In the United States — home of the one percent that takes home 19.3 percent of income and of the fifth-highest rate of poverty — 21.1 percent of people aren't always able to afford food. That's up 7.7 percent since 2006.
Percentage of people that didn't have enough food money in 2011/2012
The darker the country, the higher the percentage of people.
Change in that percentage since 2006/2007
Red countries saw the problem get worse; black and gray countries, better.