I feel duty bound to post about the recently released report on the worldwide wealth distribution put out by the “World Institute for Development Economics Research” at the United Nations University in Finland. There is little in this report that surprises me. Wealth is very skewed. For example: “the study estimates that the global wealth Gini for adults is 89%. The same degree of inequality would be obtained if one person in a group of ten takes 99% of the total pie and the other nine share the remaining 1%.”
The skew varies widely from country to country. If there is some central authority in charge, let’s call him Zippy, Zippy might decide to reward some people with more wealth than others. Zippy might pick any of an assortment of basis for his rewards: talent, birth, luck, effort, beauty, behavior, height, power, etc. The Gini index is a metric of how big much Zippy decides to reward. If he hands out no rewards then the Gini index is zero and the wealth is perfectly evenly spread out; if the index is one then he picks on person and given them all the money.
The chart below, derived from table 9 in the report, shows an alternate way to look at what Zippy has done in various countries. It shows how much wealth the bottom 90% captured.
Zippy likes the rich. He really likes them in the US and Switzerland. He’s a bit nicer to everybody else in some other countries, for example in Japan, China, and Spain.