Published January 21, 2015
The richest one percent of Iceland’s population own almost a quarter of the country’s wealth, or 23 percent. The richest ten percent own almost three quarters combined, or 73 percent, which means that 90 percent of the population share the remaining quarter. A third of those, thirty percent of the total population, own nothing, or owe more than they own. This was reported by RÚV.
RÚV notes that the figures, derived from tax reports, are based on the nominal value of shares and stocks, and not their market value, which is presumed to be significantly higher. Actual wealth inequality may thus be presumed to be more drastic than indicated by these figures.
These local statistics were published following Oxfam’s report, released at the World Economic Forum in Davos, revealing that the richest one percent of the world’s inhabitants own almost half of the world’s wealth, and will, if current trends continue, have acquired more than half by 2016.
The world figure introduced by Oxfam encompasses inequality between countries as well as inequality within countires. The distribution of wealth within Iceland is more easily compared to such distribution within other countries, individually. In the United States, the richest one percent were estimated to own 35 percent of the country’s total wealth in 2010, compared with Iceland’s 23 percent. According to the same statistics, the richest ten percent of the USA population, however, own just over half of that country’s wealth, compared with Iceland’s 73 percent.
Introducing the new report on global wealth inequality, Oxfam’s representatives spoke of “an explosion in inequality”. The organisation urged countries to take a set of measures to counteract the ongoing development towards increased inequality, including a clampdown on tax dodging; investment in universal, free public services such as health and education; shifting taxation from labour and consumption towards capital and wealth; the introduction of minimum wages, equal pay legislation and a minimum income guarantee.