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Gap Between Rich and Poor: World Income Inequality in 2002

Percentage share of income (poorest and richest 20% of population)

To understand how many inhabitants of a country are poor, it is not enough to know a country's per capita income. The number of poor people in a country and the average quality of life depend on how equally or unequally income is distributed across the population. In Brazil and Hungary, for example, per capita income levels are quite comparable, but the incidence of poverty in Brazil is much higher. In Hungary the richest 20% of the population receives about four times more income than the poorest 20%, whereas in Brazil the richest 20% receives 30 times more than the poorest 20%.

 Countries with
greatest inequality
Gini
index
Lowest
20%
Highest
20%
 1.Sierra Leone62.91.1%63.4%
 2.Central African Republic61.32.065.0
 3.Swaziland60.92.764.4
 4.Brazil60.72.264.1
 5.Nicaragua60.32.363.6
 6.South Africa59.32.964.8
 7.Paraguay57.71.960.7
 8.Colombia57.13.060.9
 9.Chile56.73.361.0
10.Honduras56.32.259.4
11.Guinea-Bissau56.22.158.9
12.Lesotho56.02.860.1
13.Guatemala55.83.860.6
14.Burkina Faso55.14.660.4
15.Mexico53.13.557.4
16.Zambia52.63.356.6
17.Hong Kong, China52.24.457.1
17.El Salvador52.23.356.4
19.Papua New Guinea50.94.556.5
20.Nigeria50.64.455.7
21.Mali50.54.656.2
21.Niger50.52.653.3
23.Gambia50.24.055.3
24.Zimbabwe50.14.755.7
25.Venezuela49.53.053.2
26.Malaysia49.24.454.3
27.Russia48.74.453.7
28.Panama48.53.652.8
29.Cameroon47.74.653.1
30.Dominican Republic47.45.153.3
 Countries with
greatest equality
Gini
Index
Lowest
20%
Highest
20%
 1.Slovakia19.511.9%31.4%
 2.Belarus21.711.433.3
 3.Hungary24.410.034.4
 4.Denmark24.79.634.5
 5.Japan24.910.635.7
 6.Sweden25.09.634.5
 7.Czech Republic25.410.335.9
 8.Finland25.610.035.8
 9.Norway25.89.735.8
10.Bulgaria26.410.136.8
11.Luxembourg26.99.436.5
12.Italy27.38.736.3
13.Slovenia28.49.137.7
14.Belgium28.78.337.3
15.Egypt28.99.839.0
15.Rwanda28.99.739.1
17.Croatia29.08.838.0
17.Ukraine29.08.837.8
19.Germany30.08.238.5
20.Austria31.06.938.0
21.Romania31.18.039.5
22.Pakistan31.29.541.1
23.Canada31.57.539.3
24.Korea, South31.67.539.3
25.Poland31.67.839.7
26.Indonesia31.79.041.1
27.Latvia32.47.640.3
27.Lithuania32.47.840.3
29.Spain32.57.540.3
30.Netherlands32.67.340.1
NOTE: Countries are ranked according to the Gini index (or coefficient), a measure of income inequality within a country. A country's Gini rating is between 0 and 100, with 0 indicating perfect equality and 100 indicating absolute inequality. (The U.S. rates 40.8 on the Gini index—the poorest 20% of its population receives 5.2% of income; the richest 20% receives 46.4%.)
Source: World Development Index 2002, The World Bank.

Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

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