An article in The Independent, written by Geoffrey Lean and Graham Ball on 21 July 1996, detailed how Britain had become the most unequal country in the Western world. The article claimed that the gap between the rich and the poor had been as great as in Nigeria, much worse than in Jamaica, Ghana or the Ivory Coast and twice as bad as in Sri Lanka or Ethiopia.?Furthermore, the poor in the UK lived on the same incomes as their equivalents in Hungary and Korea. Essentially, the richest fifth of Britons enjoyed incomes ten times as high as the poorest fifth. The poorest fifth also had an average per capita income that was 32 per cent lower than their equivalents in the US and 44 per cent lower than in the Netherlands. This, Lean and Ball wrote, was no cause for celebration. They added: “Margaret Thatcher called on us to ‘glory’ in it. She, like Ronald Reagan, believed that if the rich got richer, everybody would benefit. Now many economists believe that inequality hinders growth.” The latter statement is up for debate, according to think tank OECD, as it found in its 2015 report that income inequality among working-age people has risen faster in Britain than in any other rich nation since the mid-1970s. Read more about inequality:
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- Unemployment generation facing “make or break point” for career aspects, says OECD?
- Low pay shouldn’t mean low value: Why I’m one of the lucky ones
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