Korea’s total national income has almost doubled in 24 years, while its Gini coefficient has increased by approximately 10 percent during the same period. The Gini coefficient is a measurement of the income distribution of a nation, where 0 percent is perfect equality and 100 percent is maximum inequality.
According to the Korea National Statistical Office and the National Tax Service, the average monthly net income of urban households in Korea jumped 85.4 percent from 2.106 million won (US$2,066) to 3.904 million won (US$3,830) between 1990 and last year.
However, the income balance has been exacerbated with the Gini coefficient rising 9.4 percent from 0.256 to 0.280. The coefficient reached 0.302 when non-urban households were taken into account. The new Gini coefficient based on the Household Financial Welfare Survey added up to 0.353 as of the end of 2012.
Korea is showing a high level of income imbalance among OECD member countries, too. According to the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy and the International Labor Organization, Korea recorded the eighth-highest Gini coefficient among 28 countries in the group of advanced economies between 1981 and 2007.
Besides, the income imbalance is worsening at an increasingly faster pace. The Asia Development Bank recently announced that Korea’s Gini coefficient was fifth-highest among 28 Asian countries between 1990 and 2010, second only to those of China, Indonesia, Laos and Sri Lanka.