Growing Unequal

New report from the OECD indicates that we maybe ought to be doing more to spread the wealth around:

The gap between rich and poor has grown in more than three-quarters of OECD countries over the past two decades, according to a new OECD report.

OECD’s Growing Unequal? finds that the economic growth of recent decades has benefitted the rich more than the poor. In some countries, such as Canada, Finland, Germany, Italy, Norway and the United States, the gap also increased between the rich and the middle-class.

A couple of points. I saw John McCain this morning drawing a distinction between spreading the wealth around and spreading opportunity around. In reality, the only way to create broadly shared opportunity is to have a background of broadly shared prosperity. It’s neither possible nor desirable to have complete equality of income, wealth, or opportunity. But at the same time, it’s impossible to prevent large inequalities in income and wealth from creating the kind of large inequalities in opportunity that most people, including people like McCain who are committed to making the distribution of wealth and income as unequal as possible, find undesirable.

It’s also worth observing that the causes of a growing rich-poor gap are likely to be different from the causes of a growing rich-middle gap.