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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 Leone 62.9 1.1% 63.4%
2. Central African Republic 61.3 2.0 65.0
3. Swaziland 60.9 2.7 64.4
4. Brazil 60.7 2.2 64.1
5. Nicaragua 60.3 2.3 63.6
6. South Africa 59.3 2.9 64.8
7. Paraguay 57.7 1.9 60.7
8. Colombia 57.1 3.0 60.9
9. Chile 56.7 3.3 61.0
10. Honduras 56.3 2.2 59.4
11. Guinea-Bissau 56.2 2.1 58.9
12. Lesotho 56.0 2.8 60.1
13. Guatemala 55.8 3.8 60.6
14. Burkina Faso 55.1 4.6 60.4
15. Mexico 53.1 3.5 57.4
16. Zambia 52.6 3.3 56.6
17. Hong Kong, China 52.2 4.4 57.1
17. El Salvador 52.2 3.3 56.4
19. Papua New Guinea 50.9 4.5 56.5
20. Nigeria 50.6 4.4 55.7
21. Mali 50.5 4.6 56.2
21. Niger 50.5 2.6 53.3
23. Gambia 50.2 4.0 55.3
24. Zimbabwe 50.1 4.7 55.7
25. Venezuela 49.5 3.0 53.2
26. Malaysia 49.2 4.4 54.3
27. Russia 48.7 4.4 53.7
28. Panama 48.5 3.6 52.8
29. Cameroon 47.7 4.6 53.1
30. Dominican Republic 47.4 5.1 53.3
  Countries with
greatest equality
Gini
Index
Lowest
20%
Highest
20%
1. Slovakia 19.5 11.9% 31.4%
2. Belarus 21.7 11.4 33.3
3. Hungary 24.4 10.0 34.4
4. Denmark 24.7 9.6 34.5
5. Japan 24.9 10.6 35.7
6. Sweden 25.0 9.6 34.5
7. Czech Republic 25.4 10.3 35.9
8. Finland 25.6 10.0 35.8
9. Norway 25.8 9.7 35.8
10. Bulgaria 26.4 10.1 36.8
11. Luxembourg 26.9 9.4 36.5
12. Italy 27.3 8.7 36.3
13. Slovenia 28.4 9.1 37.7
14. Belgium 28.7 8.3 37.3
15. Egypt 28.9 9.8 39.0
15. Rwanda 28.9 9.7 39.1
17. Croatia 29.0 8.8 38.0
17. Ukraine 29.0 8.8 37.8
19. Germany 30.0 8.2 38.5
20. Austria 31.0 6.9 38.0
21. Romania 31.1 8.0 39.5
22. Pakistan 31.2 9.5 41.1
23. Canada 31.5 7.5 39.3
24. Korea, South 31.6 7.5 39.3
25. Poland 31.6 7.8 39.7
26. Indonesia 31.7 9.0 41.1
27. Latvia 32.4 7.6 40.3
27. Lithuania 32.4 7.8 40.3
29. Spain 32.5 7.5 40.3
30. Netherlands 32.6 7.3 40.1
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.

 

Economic Statistics by Country, 2005 Economic Statistics Measuring Global Poverty