Attention, Protestors: You’re Probably Part of the 1%

Posted by on Nov 07, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Savor the irony.

The recent Occupy Wall Street protests (and their Occupy Sydney and Occupy Melbourne cousins) have aimed their message at the income disparity between the 1% richest and the rest of the country. But what happens when you expand that and look at the 1% richest of the entire world? Some really interesting numbers emerge. If there were a global Occupy Wall Street protest, people as well off as Linda Frakes might actually be the target.

In America, the top 1% earn more than $380,000 per year. In Australia, the top 3% of households earn more than $250,000 per week, according to the ABS. How much do you need to earn to be among the top 1% of the world?


That was the finding World Bank economist Branko Milanovic presented in his 2010 book The Haves and the Have-Nots. Going down the distribution ladder may be just as surprising. To be in the top half of the globe, you need to earn just $1,225 a year. For the top 20%, it’s $5,000 per year. Enter the top 10% with $12,000 a year. To be included in the top 0.1% requires an annual income of $70,000.

As author Matt Ridley put it, “Today, of Americans officially designated as ‘poor,’ 99 percent have electricity, running water, flush toilets, and a refrigerator; 95 percent have a television, 88 percent a telephone, 71 percent a car and 70 percent air conditioning. Henry Parkes had none of these.” Nor does much of the world.

Food for thought.


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