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Differences in national income equality around the world as measured by the national Gini coefficient. The Gini coefficient is a number between 0 and 1, where 0 corresponds with perfect equality (where everyone has the same income) and 1 corresponds with absolute inequality (where one person has all the income, and everyone else has zero income).

Economic inequality, also known as income inequality, wealth inequality, gap between rich and poor, gulf between rich and poor and contrast between rich and poor, refers to how economic metrics are distributed among individuals in a group, among groups in a population, or among countries. Economists generally think of three metrics of economic disparity: wealth (wealth inequality), income (income inequality), and consumption.<ref name="hydra"/> The issue of economic inequality can implicate notions of equity, equality of outcome, and equality of opportunity.<ref name=WaPoLifespan>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}</ref>

Some studies have emphasized inequality as a growing social problem.<ref name="Spirit Level">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref> Too much inequality can be destructive,<ref name="biu.ac.il">{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref><ref name="Castells-Quintana">{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref> because income inequality and wealth concentration can hinder long term growth.<ref name="ilo.org">{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref><ref name="The New Growth Evidence">{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref><ref name="www-wds.worldbank.org">{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref> Early statistical studies comparing inequality to economic growth had been inconclusive,<ref name=BanerjeeDuflo/> however in 2011, International Monetary Fund economists showed that greater income equality—less inequality—increased the duration of countries' economic growth spells more than free trade, low government corruption, foreign investment, or low foreign debt.<ref name=BergOstryEE />

Economic inequality varies between societies, historical periods, economic structures and systems. The term can refer to cross sectional distribution of income or wealth at any particular period, or to the lifetime income and wealth over longer periods of time.<ref>Wojciech Kopczuk, Emmanuel Saez, and Jae Song find that "most of the increase in the variance of (log) annual earnings is due to increases in the variance of (log) permanent earnings with modest increases in the variance of transitory (log) earnings." Thus, in fact, the increase in earnings inequality is in lifetime income. Furthermore, they find that it remains difficult for someone to move up the earnings distribution (though they do find upward mobility for women in their lifetime). See their "Earnings Inequality and Mobility in the United States: Evidence from Social Security Data since 1937," Quarterly Journal of Economics. 125, no. 1 (2010): 91–128.</ref> There are various numerical indices for measuring economic inequality. A widely used one is the Gini coefficient, but there are also many other methods.


Economic inequality sections
Intro  Measurement concepts  Measurements  Causes  Effects  Perspectives  Policy responses intended to mitigate  Mitigating factors  See also  References  Further reading  External links  

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