Wednesday 24 January 2018

Wealth inequality and Oxfam, again

Every year, Credit Suisse puts out its new databook measuring global wealth. And, like clockwork, Oxfam follows it up a few months later with calls to liquidate the wealthy.

Here follow some fun facts from the Credit Suisse report that provides the data that forms the basis for the Oxfam stuff.

At the end of 2000, New Zealand had 0.1 percent of the world's adults and 0.2% of the world's wealth. Mean wealth per Kiwi adult was USD $67,275; median Kiwi wealth was $30,078. By comparison, the global median wealth per adult in 2000 was $1,867.

By mid-2017, New Zealand still had only 0.1% of the world's adults but had managed to scrounge up 0.4% of the world's wealth: wealth per NZ adult rose to USD $337,441 and median wealth per adult rose to $147,593. Meanwhile, global median wealth per adult rose to $3,582.

Mean Kiwi wealth is five times higher than it was in 2000; median Kiwi wealth is 4.9 times higher. Global average wealth grew 1.8 times over the period and global median wealth grew 1.9 times.

Pretty clearly, Kiwis are doing something to steal wealth from the rest of the world. Because that's the only plausible reason that one person's wealth grows more quickly than another's, right? If Kiwis' wealth had kept pace with international norms, which are presumably fair, New Zealand's median wealth would be $57,750, not $147,593. The median Kiwi has almost $90,000 that should rightly have been shared around to poorer people internationally. And if mean wealth had tracked international norms, average wealth per adult would be about $120,000, not $337,000. Tracked across the 3.4 million adults in New Zealand, that's $735 billion dollars of unfair Kiwi wealth. The couple billionaires that are the focus of Oxfam's Five-Minutes Hate (NZ edition) have about eleven billion between them.

Okay, enough snark, though it is fun. Back to Credit Suisse.

NZ enjoyed the world's fourth highest percentage increase in total household wealth from 2016 to 2017, and the sixth highest in per-adult terms. In total, NZ households are $132 billion dollars richer than they were last year.

As for distribution, NZ's wealth gini is reported at 72.3. The median country's gini is 71 and the mean country's gini is 69.8. If you pull the pdf into an Excel table and sort by wealth gini... actually no. Here it is in a Google Sheet so you can check for yourself.

Anyway, New Zealand winds up being the 80th most unequal country in the world, or the 92nd most equal - on the Gini measure. Pretty middling. The world's most unequal country is Venezuela. After that, and in order, it's Kazakhstan, Egypt, Namibia, Ukraine, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, the US, the Bahamas, Hong Kong, and Thailand. Sweden is the 17th most unequal country on this measure. Germany is 42nd, followed by China at 43th. You have to go past Canada at 71st and the UK at 72nd and the Netherlands at 75th before you get to New Zealand at 80th most unequal.

And Myanmar, where 99.3% of the population has less than $10,000 USD in wealth, is the most equal, with a Gini of only 31.

The plot below is surely too small to read, but the hover-overs might work. If not, hit the link to the Google Sheet above.