The United States Has Worse Wealth Inequality Than Russia
Although Americans sometimes criticize the Russian economy for its unequal wealth distribution, the top 10% of earners—a reasonable metric for income inequality—in the United States control slightly more wealth than the top 10% of Russians, Quartz reports.
A study by French economist Thomas Piketty compared the levels of wealth controlled by the top 10% in France, Russia, and the U.S. since 1900. In 2015, the most recent data point for the three countries, the top earners in the United States accounted for 48% of the country's total income, while the top 10% in Russia made a very similar 46%.
“Elite Americans are now claiming the biggest share of income than they’ve managed in 75 years,” Quartz reported.
The rise of inequality in the United States ramped up during the 1980s, which economists Claudia Goldin and Robert Margo called the "Great Compression" period, likely due to the abandonment of New Deal safety net programs and the implementation of neoliberal economic policies. Ever since, more and more wealth has been controlled by a smaller segment of the U.S. population.
Soviet wealth inequality, meanwhile, is currently at almost the exact same level as it was in 1905—in czarist Russia.
Income inequality in France has, on average, decreased over the past century, with the endurance of the country’s robust social welfare programs, though the French economy has also grown at a slower rate.