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Korea’s Top 10 Percent Income Brackets Take Up 45 Percent of Nation’s Total Income
Highest in Asia
Korea’s Top 10 Percent Income Brackets Take Up 45 Percent of Nation’s Total Income
  • By Michael Herh
  • March 16, 2016, 05:30
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South Korea’s top 10 percent people in income standings owned 45 percent of the nation’s total income as of 2013.
South Korea’s top 10 percent people in income standings owned 45 percent of the nation’s total income as of 2013.

 

It was found that the top 10 percent income brackets in Korea took up 45 percent of the total income in the nation, which is the highest proportion among Asian countries.

According to an IMF report on income inequality in Asia, Korea’s top 10 percent people in income standings owned 45 percent of the total income as of 2013, the highest among Asian countries.   

Countries, where the top 10 percent income brackets had a relatively-high proportion of the total income, included South Korea, Singapore (42 percent), Japan (41 percent), New Zealand (32 percent), Australia (31 percent) and Malaysia (22 percent).

This ratio of Korea rose 16 percent in 18 years from 29 percent in 1995. Taking into consideration the fact that the average of all Asian nations grew one to two percent during similar periods, Korea’s ratio considerably outgrew. 

The proportion of top 1 percent income bracket in Korea swelled five percentage points to 12 percent, ranking second among Asian economies. Although that of Korea grew most, Singapore’s top 1 percent of income level families took up 14 percent of total income. 

According to the report, Asia’s four dragons -- South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan –- accomplished a rapid economic growth and fair distribution at the same time. But in the early 1990s, the income equality began to collapse.   

Among 22 subject countries of the report’s analysis, the Geni coefficient rose in 15 countries from 1990 to 2013. The coefficient indicates the degree of income inequality. The higher the coefficient is, the more serious the income inequality becomes. In particular, China’s Gini coefficient rose to 53 in 2013 from 33 in 1990. During the same period, that of China rose to 51 from 45.   

Korea’s Gini coefficient inched down to 31 in 2013 from 32 in 1990. This was a stark contrast to the fact that the percentage of Korea’s top 10 percent income brackets increased 16 percentage points, the report pointed out.  

“A recent research shows that Korea did not have many ladders for upward mobility,” the report said. The report blamed it on rapid aging society, big gaps between full-time and temporary workers and job-related sexual discriminations.

Japan’s Gini coefficient rose to 31 in 2010 from 27 in 1990. The report pointed out that the rise was attributable to Japan’s aging society, women’s low participation in the labor market like Korea and a sharp rise in temporary workers.   

Japan’s temporary workers accounted for less than 20 percent in the early 1990s before the bubble burst. The ratio increased sharply to 35 percent in 2011. Moreover, female workers accounted for 70 percent of Japan’s temporary laborers.