Here’s the best question I have read this week:
“Why does the richest country in the world still need anti-poverty week?”
The Ethical Jobs website asks it in an October 17th post. I previously reported that by at least one measure – median income – Australians were now the richest people in the world. And yet, the University of Canberra – Uniting Care report Poverty, Social Exclusion and Disadvantage in Australia (PDF document) points to distinct trends towards inequality of wealth in Australia (p. 7):
In the OECD database, of the 34 developed nations considered by the OECD in 2010, Australia ranked 26thin terms of poverty rate with 14.4 per cent of persons in poverty compared to the average of 11.3 per cent. Australia has a lower poverty rate than the United States (17.4 per cent) but a higher rate than the United Kingdom (10 per cent) and a much higher rate than the Scandinavian countries such as Denmark (6 per cent) and Finland (7.3 per cent).
Check out the figure on this same page (7): Australian poverty levels jumped substantially from 1995 to 2010. It is not a good thing that we are approaching American percentages.
A high level of median household income – as we have in Australia – clearly does NOT mean an equal society: the 50% below the median can be way below, while the 50% above the line can be way above. Much work needs to be done.