OECD Forum 2012: Addressing Inequality
Over the past 30 years, increased economic growth has not benefited everyone. In OECD countries, for instance, the average income of the richest 10% of the population is about nine times that of the poorest 10% and these gaps are much higher in some major emerging economies. Rising inequality threatens long-term growth, political and economic stability and welfare globally. Inequality, however, is not inevitable. Improved tax and social benefit policies can slow down the rate at which income inequality is increasing, yet, they will not do enough on their own. Well-designed labour policies that focus on creating more and better jobs for all, enhancing access to and performance in education and training at every level, and investing in people’s skills, can help reduce inequality. Access to high-quality public services, such as health or family care is also important, especially for emerging economies. OECD research finds that public spending on these services reduces inequality by about a fifth on average.
What can be done to reduce inequality at a time of financial constraints? How can we ensure that policies foster not only stronger and more sustainable growth, but also promote a better distribution of the benefits of growth? Do developing and emerging economies require different strategies and policy approaches than advanced economies? What is the role of the private sector in promoting the business models that generate more equality?