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Escaping the Inequality-Data Dark Ages

Even as perceptions of rising inequality undermine the foundations of democracy, data on wealth and income trends remain woefully inadequate. It is in the interest of all societies to develop an internationally recognized set of indicators and methods for tracking income, wealth, and effective tax rates accurately and transparently.

PARIS – We are living in the Dark Ages of inequality statistics. More than a decade after the “Great Recession,” governments are still unable to track accurately the evolution of income and wealth. Statistical agencies produce income-growth statistics for the population as a whole (national accounts), but not for the “middle class,” the “working class,” or the richest 1% and 0.1%. At a time when Google, Facebook, Visa, Mastercard, and other multinational corporations know intimate details about our private lives, governments still do not capture, let alone publish, the most basic statistics concerning the distribution of income and wealth.