Inequality has become one of the most talked about topics of debate with its sharp rise being one of the most worrying trends over the past decade, yet for all the debate on the issue, one persistent problem remains overfocusing on income inequality without talking about wealth inequality. For most of human history, the biggest driver of inequality was land ownership ie wealth with the poor either possessing no land or little land compared to the powerful landlords. The shift away from land-based economic system towards wage-based ones was one of the key ways the industrial revolution influenced but it has sadly left a legacy of land inequality that’s been ignored.
Almost all discussion about a GINI index or tackling inequality in any serious manner beyond simple populist kill billionaire rhetoric almost certianly talks about income inequality with little attention being paid to wealth inequality to the point there exist no visual media I can show it you in beyond a simple table as most maps of the GINI index around the world only use income. The key distinction between the two is that income measures the amount of money made in a year while wealth is essentially net worth or the total amount of assets one.
Wealth, as a rule, tends to be more unequally distributed than income with the global average being 0.804 of the Gini index compared to the world is 38.0 but the sheer scale of the difference is often underappreciated. To make it even more worrying while Income Inequality has been increasing over the past two centuries and is now shrinking as one can see from the excellent graphs made by our world in data. Wealth inequality is now rising after it has shrunk over the past few years
Yet there remains a great deal of great publicly accessible information on the topic that sadly remains stuck in incomprehensible table form such as the excellent Credit Suisse reports which were the source of the viral headline about how a few dozen billionaire now have more wealth than the bottom 3.5 billion yet despite it debator still keep getting them confused
Even readers of Pickety whose central thesis is that Wealth inequality and rent-seeking behaviour is the main driver of inequality often fall for this divide viewing wealth inequality as the cause of income inequality rather than two separate phenomena that will require their own solutions. High-executive pay one of the biggest drivers of inequality is already facing push-back by stockholders meaning that it might end up being a self-solving problem. Wealth inequality, on the other hand, sees no signs of abetting with a recent tax cut implemented in the united states only going to drive it forward. If the dichotomy is not addressed goverment policies designed to fight inequality might end up missing their target