Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Gini Coefficient

The Gini coefficient is a measurement of inequality in income in a country.  It ranges from 0 (best) to 1 (worst).  The chart, published in the SCMP based on HK government data recently, tells us a major part of the reason why so many people in Hong are so unhappy.  Simply put, the gap between the rich and the poor in Hong Kong is getting worst over the years.  And the degree of inequality, at 0.537, is actually among the worst in the world.

The HK government data is very close to the CIA data, which puts HK at 0.533.   According to the CIA, we are comparable to Thailand at 0.536, Paraguay at 0.532, Mexico at 0.517.  But we don’t normally compare ourselves with these countries, do we?

How about countries that we do want to compare ourselves with?   In comparison, Canada is 0.321, Australia is 0.305, UK is 0.340, USA is 0.450, and Singapore is 0.478.   We are very far behind countries that we aspire to compare ourselves with. 

We can surely afford to distribute income and wealth more equally.  Why don’t we do that?  The wealthy and powerful - by being so greedy and selfish in hoarding wealth - are generating and fermenting discontent in society, which will eventually destabilize society.  Don’t they realize that?


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