Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Top 1% of Koreans Get Bigger

Nations with greater income equality amongst their people have less crime and better standards of living.  Something I love about Korea is that they do not worship their rich.  Average, hard-working Koreans aren't dumb enough to believe in trickle-down economics or the belief if they just stop taxing the rich, somehow the economy will become so fantastic all their financial troubles will melt away.

The top 1 percent of earners in Korea account for 16.6 percent of the national income in a stark indication that polarization is particularly marked here. The Korea Institute of Public Finance on Monday said taxation data show that in 2006, a person making W100 million (US$1=W1,141) a year would qualify for the top one percentile of the income bracket.

The number of people earning at least W100 million a year accounted for 1.2 percent of the total population in 2007, 1.1 percent in 2009 and around 1.6 percent in 2010, according to KIPF.

The top 1 percent of wage earners accounted for 16.6 percent of the national income, which was slightly lower than the U.S. (17.7 percent), but higher than the U.K. (14.3 percent), Canada (13.3 percent), Japan (9.2 percent) and Australia (8.8 percent), showing that the wealth gap is especially pronounced in Korea. But KIPF said top wage earners account for a growing slice of the income pie in all OECD member nations over the past three decades.

But the top wage earners in Korea paid more taxes than their peers in advanced countries. They accounted for 43.9 percent of total tax revenues, as against the U.S.' 40 percent and a measly 24 percent in the U.K.

"The data was limited so it wasn't easy to compare different countries, but one thing is clear: those in the upper income bracket took up a larger share of the overall economy," said Park Myung-ho at KIPF.
The article does not say how much of Korea's wealth is owned by the richest 1%.  In America, the richest 1% own more than 40% of America's wealth.  I am guessing that for the rich in Korea it might be in the high 20s or low 30s.  I think much of the wealth for the richest 1% of Americans is generational and has accumulated over generations.  Whereas in Korea, much of their wealth is recent as of the last 30 years and the rich have yet to pass it on to the next generation to begin accumulating.

Here is a great speech by Bernie Sanders talking about income inequality in America.  This guy is the only actual socialist in the United States Congress (despite Fox News' accusations).


NM SA said...


You're pretty cool. It's not common to find westerners with your political sentiments and appreciation of Korea. Would love to chat with you over a beer. Do you have contact info?


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