India Stands out as Poor and Very Unequal, top 1% Owns 33% National Wealth: World Inequality Lab Report
The top 1% of the population in India holds more than one-fifth of total national income in 2021, as per the latest report released by the World Inequality Lab. The country has emerged as a poor and very unequal country, with the bottom half of the population owning "almost nothing" of the national wealth. The report, titled 'World Inequality Report 2022', has been authored by Lucas Chancel, co-director of the World Inequality Lab, with other coordinators, including France's Thomas Piketty.
"The average national income of the Indian adult population is 7,400 Euro or Rs 204,200. While the bottom 50% earns 2,000 Euro or Rs 53,610, the top 10% earns more than 20 times more (42 500 Euro or Rs 1,166,520)," the report said.
The share of the bottom half of the Indian population in the total national income has gone down to 13%. At the same time, the top 10% holds 57% of the income, with the topmost 1% having 22% national income respectively. "India stands out as a poor and very unequal country, with an affluent elite," the report stated
The average household wealth in India is equal to 35,000 Euro or Rs 983,010, as per the data shared by the World Inequality Lab. "The bottom 50% own almost nothing, with an average wealth of 4,200 Euro or Rs 66,280)," the report said.
The report notes, "Indian income inequality was very high under British colonial rule (1858-1947), with a top 10% income share around 50%. After independence, socialist-inspired five-year plans contributed to reducing this share to 35-40%. Since the mid-1980s, deregulation and liberalisation policies have led to one of the most extreme increases in income and wealth inequality observed in the world. While the top 1% has largely benefited from economic reforms, growth among low and middle-income groups has been relatively slow and poverty persists."
The middle class is relatively poor, with an average wealth of only 26,400 Euro or Rs 723,930, it said. This constitutes 29.5% of the total wealth. The top 10% of the population owns over 65% of the total wealth, with an average wealth at 231,300 Euros or Rs 6,354,070. The report claimed that the share of the top 1% in the national wealth stands at 33%.
Gender and Carbon Inequality
"Gender inequalities in India are very high. The female labour income share is equal to 18%. This is significantly lower than the average in Asia (21%, excluding China)," the report stated. This particular value in India is one of the lowest in the world and only just higher than the average share in the Middle East, where the share of females in national income is at 15%.
With regards to carbon emission, the report notes that the average person in the "bottom 50% of the Indian population is responsible for, on average, five times fewer emissions than the average person in the bottom 50% in the European Union and ten times fewer than the average person in the bottom 50% in the US."
"India is a low carbon emitter: the average per capita consumption of greenhouse gas is equal to just over two tCO2e. These levels are typically comparable with carbon footprints in sub-Saharan African countries. The bottom 50%, middle 40% and top 10% respectively consume 1, 2, and 9 tCO2e/capita," the report further notes.
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