But it helps to take a step back and get some perspective. If you make $25,000 per year, you are wealthier than 90% of the world’s population. If you make $50,000 per year, you are wealthier than 99% of the world’s population. We are sitting luxuriously in the top of the wine glass.
Most of us are extremely wealthy but by looking at the super rich we feel poor. If we look, rather, to those who lack, we see that 6.7 billion people in the world and almost half of them live on less than $2 per day. Not only are we rich, but we can afford to help them live. But sadly, the gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen.
Today 40% of world’s wealth is owned by 1% of the population. In fact, the richest fifth of the population receives 82.7% of the total world income.
A World of Work Report from 2008 shows that, between 1990 and 2005, approximately two thirds of the countries experienced an increase in income inequality. The incomes of richer households have increased relative to those of the middle class and poorer households.
Likewise, during the same period, the income gap between the top and bottom 10 per cent of wage earners increased in 70 per cent of the countries for which data are available.
The gap in income inequality is also widening – at an increasing pace – between top executives and the average employee. For example, in the United States in 2007, the chief executive officers (CEOs) of the 15 largest companies earned 520 times more than the average worker. This is up from 360 times more in 2003. Similar patterns, though from lower levels of executive pay, have been registered in Australia, Germany, Hong Kong (China), the Netherlands and South Africa.
Most of us don’t realize how great the disparity is. But when we see these trends, we must ask ourselves how we can change them and how can we create a more just world.