Russia is ‘most unequal’ country in the world

15 Apr 19

Stark inequality between rich and poor in Russia has been highlighted in an annual wealth report.

Credit Suisse’s latest Global Wealth Report shows the wealthiest 10% of Russia’s population own 82% of all household wealth. This gives Russia the most unequal wealth distribution in the world, compared to figures of 76% for the United States and 62% for China.

The report reveals that there are an estimated 74 billionaires in Russia, owning a combined wealth that is greater than the entire population’s savings. Now in its ninth edition, the report analyses the wealth held by five billion adults across the globe, and has a focus on female wealth holding and gender differences.

The Moscow Times reports an opinion poll which found that wealth inequality is the largest cause of unhappiness with president Putin. The Levada poll discovered that 45% of respondents criticised Putin for “failing to ensure an equitable distribution of income in the interests of ordinary people”.

Russia’s household wealth grew rapidly in the early part of the century, as global commodity markets boomed. Wealth per adult rose eightfold between 2000 and 2007. However, since then the trend has been flat and rouble has been an unstable currency.

The Credit Suisse findings back those of the second edition of the Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index, produced by Oxfam and Development Finance International. Using data on factors including health and education spending, taxation and labour laws, the index ranks nations in order of the steps they are taking to reduce inequality. It places Russia 50th out of 157 countries, below all of its neighbours Eastern European neighbours and Georgia.

Denmark, which has some of the most progressive taxation policies in the world, has the highest ranking. The Scandinavian country also has good labour policies and protection of women in the workplace. Nigeria is awarded the lowest position for reducing inequality, for the second year in a row. The UK is ranked 14th in the table, below France, Belgium and Germany, but above Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.

The index concludes: “South Korea, Namibia and Uruguay are taking strong steps to reduce inequality. Sadly, countries such as India and Nigeria do very badly overall, as does the USA among rich countries, showing a lack of commitment to closing the inequality gap.”

The report recommends that countries should produce plans to achieve a position in the top ten.

In 2015, the majority of the world’s governments committed to reducing inequality under Goal 10 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

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