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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Inégalités croissantes dans les pays développés

by Gérard Le Puil

Growing inequality in developed countries

Translated Saturday 20 June 2015, by Adrian Jordan

For thirty years, the income gap has continued to grow between rich and poor in developed countries, according to the latest report of the OECD, published 21 May. In Germany, however, the establishment of minimum wage has been a setback for mini-jobs since the start of the year.

With its headquarters in Paris, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) gives its 34 developed country members formulas - always based on economic liberalism – to promote growth. But, as these formulas never bring the expected results, the OECD has the dual role of defending these poor results and of criticising the outcome of policies it advocates without the slightest sense of culpability amongst its leaders.

The richest 10 percent have an income 9.6 times greater than the poorest 10 percent

Here, yesterday we showed how the Attali Report, an exact copy of OECD recommendations, served to justify the Economic Modernisation Act (LME) voted through by the right in 2008 to rob famers and the food industry in favour of the big distributors. The OECD also published a report on Thursday, this time showing the income gap between the poorest and the richest never stops growing in developed countries. So, “in OECD countries, the richest 10 percent of the population earn 9.6 times the income of the poorest 10 percent. In the 1980s, this ratio stood at 7:1 rising to 8:1 in the 1990s and 9:1 in the 2000s.” One might imagine the gap between the poorest 5 percent and the richest 5 percent.

Unsurprisingly, the OECD reveals, in all years, the gap in Great Britain has grown more than in all the other countries studied. From Thatcher to Cameron via Blair, all policies followed in the country have favoured the rich to the detriment of the poor. Always free with his advice, even when it contradicts that of the organisation he heads, Angel Gurria, general secretary of the OECD, declared on 21 May: “We have reached a tipping point. Inequality in OECD countries is at its highest since records began [...] By not addressing inequality, governments are cutting into the social fabric of their countries and hurting their long-term economic growth." The OECD even calculated a lack of growth of 4.7 percent in 19 countries between 1990 and 2010.
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The German Trade Federation complains about minimum wage

It was totally expected. However, the secretary general of the OECD has no formula for getting out of the trap. In Les Echos of 22 May, the journal’s Berlin correspondent showed the initial consequences of a minimum wage of 8.50 euros per hour, established in Germany at the start of the year, was a first trimester drop of 3.5 percent of “mini-jobs” which pay just 450 euros per month. However there is still a long way to go since this underemployment still made up 6.6 million jobs by 31 March 2015, this being 273,000 less than on 31 December 2014. In Germany, the sole retail trade federation has 900,000 employees in these “mini-jobs” of less than 450 euros per month and complains about the creation of minimum wage.

Finally, to return to the OECD report, the least inegalitarian countries in terms of income are Denmark, Belgium and Sweden, while the most inegalitarian are Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States. France is in the middle of the table between South Korea and Italy.


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