It's an old saying: the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. And sadly a new study has found that the saying has it right ... at this moment in history, 42 per cent of total world income goes to the richest ten per cent of the world's population, while only one per cent of income goes to the poorest ten per cent. And although the United States has the most severe income inequality in the developed world, the gap between the rich and the poor is growing faster in Canada than in the United States.
The Conference Board of Canada study examines the economic disparity between the wealthy and the poor between the mid-nineties and the late 2000s in countries around the globe. In 10 of the 17 countries that are considered Canada's economic peers, income inequality (the distance between how much the rich make and how much the poor make) grew over that period. Canada's grew at the fourth-fastest rate of those peer countries, behind Sweden, Finland and Denmark.
The study doesn't specifically address the reasons why Canada's income inequality gap is rising faster than the States'. And the reasons for Canada's fast-growing rate are complex. Part of the problem, according to the Ontario Public Health Association, is the "shocking drop in market income for low and middle-income families" as a result of declining real wages and lost jobs. In 1996, approximately 75% of low-income families didn't have work, compared to around 33% in 1973. With so much less work to go around, and lower hourly wages, lower-income people are growing poorer.
You can see how income inequality has changed over the past decade and a half in this thought-provoking video: