Inequality Index

I now have Twitter as my main source of information, and I’m appalled at how much stupidity gets floated around. @Injustice Facts tweeted the following weird statement: “Brazil is the only country in the entire world that ranks higher than the United States on the inequality index.”

I don’t know who made said inequality index, but it’s simply stupid. With all due respect to the US and Brazil, have the creators of this index ever heard of Russia? I suggest that everybody who is secretly happy that the US made the top of this list visit first Moscow and then some provincial Russian town like Samara. For full measure, you can then go by a little village in Russia. After those experiences, the word “inequality” will acquire its full meaning for you.

10 thoughts on “Inequality Index”

  1. Well, don’t take this as me defending compilers/promoters of stupid lists, but I suppose they could be talking about measures of inequality where what is being measured is the size of the relative gaps within countries? Using that method, when the US bottom 1% is compared to the US top 1% there’s a huge disparity, whereas in other countries the bottom 1% may be much closer to the top 1%, meaning the society is more equal.

    Of course, that’s not a good thing if your bottom 1% is literally starving.

    I prefer living standards indexes where they look at things like ‘access to fresh water’, ‘accessible/affordable healthcare’, ‘educational opportunities’ and other frippery things like that.

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  2. But that’s what I’m talking about too. The gap between the rich and the poor in the US cannot possibly be anything like the one in Russia. There are many really obscenely rich people and many completely destitute people, including small children who sell sexual services at train stations at the ages of 4-11. He siation in the US is not perfect, but there is nothing like this kind of inequality.

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  3. Ditto for India. I am very suspicious about the basis of this claim that US has the highest income inequality in the world.

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  4. FD :

    I prefer living standards indexes where they look at things like ‘access to fresh water’, ‘accessible/affordable healthcare’, ‘educational opportunities’ and other frippery things like that.

    Yup. Basically, what Amartya Sen calls “capabilities.”

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  5. Actually it’s Namibia that tops the disparity list now. It was Brazil for years and years but they’ve had huge antipoverty efforts the last 10+ years. US disparity level is high compared to Western Europe and is growing sort of fast, and current US policies (transfer of wealth upward) contribute to this.

    Currently published CIA stats (although not all their studies are completely current) give US and Russia have similar indices of income *disparity*. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2172.html
    The starting and ending points are different – US poor richer than Russian poor, and US rich richer than Russian rich (and there are more US rich than Russian rich. So, you can have a similar spread, yet at the same time really different income levels; US total GDP is also much larger than Russia’s.

    Re “the gap cannot possibly be” – US really varies. It’s hard to believe the swaths of poverty exist in US when one is not familiar with all regions. I can remember an American in Brazil telling me that what I was seeing there, was also widespread in US, and thinking he exaggerated. But my US experience at that time was limited to a few Western states and NYC. So I’d been to slums in NY/LA/Oakland, for example, and to migrant worker camps and so on — i.e. I’d been to where one expects it to be poor — but I hadn’t been in regions where poverty was much more widespread. I have now and I know exactly what that guy meant. I’ve got Argentines here in Maringouin this week and they can’t believe it. Am I not shocked, they keep asking. I was shocked originally, I keep saying, but that was years ago and it is familiar now.

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  6. …and… Inequality Index (GINI) is calculated by different organizations – not just CIA, also UN and Global Peace Index. All their calculations are slightly different since it’s a complicated thing to estimate and compute, and takes a lot of different factors into account.

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