Half of Australians surveyed say income inequality is the most serious inequality in our country

Around the globe six in 10 nominated income inequality as the most serious form of inequality

Six in 10 people across the globe said that inequalities in income and wealth are among the most serious types of inequality affecting their country, according to an Ipsos study on inequality conducted across 28 countries.

The findings highlight that views around inequality are still rooted in wealth and income. The next most prominent inequality was that of inequalities between more and less deprived areas (42%).

Key Australian findings

In Australia, the key findings were:

  • Half (52%) say income and wealth inequality is one of the most serious in Australia;
  • 38% say inequalities between racial or ethnic groups;
  • 36% inequalities between more and less deprived areas;
  • Three in ten (29%) say gender inequality and generational inequality (29%);
  • One quarter (25%) say inequalities in educational outcomes for children and health and life expectancies (24%).

Graph

Ipsos Public Affairs Australia Deputy Managing Director, David Elliott, said: “Broadly, the concerns over inequality in Australia are lower than those in the survey undertaken in 28 countries, indicating we are less divided than many other countries.  However, the romantic notion of an egalitarian Australia can still be seen as more of an ideal than a reality when looking at the perceived inequalities in Australia. Although one of the lowest – we ranked 24th of 28 countries surveyed - half of Australians see income and wealth as the most serious inequality in Australia, but perhaps the most concerning in an aging and multicultural Australia is the inequality between racial or ethnic groups – we ranked eighth and the divide between older and younger generations, where we ranked sixth.” 

Key global findings

Six in ten (60%) said that inequalities in income and wealth are among the most serious types of inequality affecting their country. Inequalities between more and less deprived areas come second, with 42% saying that geographical inequality is one of the most serious forms of inequality in their country. Three in 10 think that gender and racial/ethnic inequalities are among the most serious, although cultural movements highlighting issues in both areas have achieved global prominence in recent years.

Inequality between younger and older generations is seen as a relatively less serious form of inequality across the 28 countries polled, with just 24% saying it was one of the most serious inequalities in their country.

Graph 1

There are differences by gender, with 36% of women across the 28 countries polled believing that gender inequality was one of the three or four most serious types of inequality in their country, compared to just 26% of men.

Younger people aged under 35 are more likely to highlight inequalities between racial or ethnic groups and inequalities between men and women as a concern compared to those aged 35-49 and 50-74.

Graph 2

Income and wealth inequality

  • 60% of people across the 28 countries believe that inequality in income and wealth is one of the most serious forms of inequality in their country.
  • Concerns about income and wealth inequality are highest in Russia where four in five (83%) select it, South Korea (80%) and Hungary (77%).
  • On the other hand, income inequality is considered relatively less serious in Saudi Arabia, Poland and Sweden.
  • There is little overall relationship between actual income inequality and how serious a problem it is seen to be relative to other inequalities. For example, Sweden ranks highly on objective measures of income equality[1]. In line with this, people there have comparatively very low levels of concern about this issue.
  • Belgium and the Netherlands, on the other hand, rank even higher for income equality, yet those countries are more likely to be worried about disparities in income, underscoring that how serious people perceive this type of inequality to be seems unrelated to actual performance on this issue.

Geographical inequality

  • Inequality between more and less deprived areas is considered the second most important form of inequality across the 28 countries, with 42% believing it to most serious forms of inequality in their country.
  • Concern about geographical inequality is highest in Russia where two-thirds (64%) believe it to be one of the most serious types of inequality affecting their country.
  • Concern is lowest in Germany where only one in five (22%) believe it is one of the three or four most serious types of inequality in their country.
  • More than two in five (45%) of those from high income households believe that geographical inequality is one of the most serious types of inequality in their country, compared to 37% of low income households.

Gender inequality

  • On average, three in 10 (31%) highlight gender inequality in their country as concern.
  • Concern is highest in in Mexico (45%), Turkey (42%) and Spain (42%) but lower than average in Malaysia (12%), Russia (15%) and Singapore (19%).
  • Even though some countries – such as Spain, Sweden, France and Germany – rank highly on objective measures of gender equality[2] they still have greater levels of concern about this issue than other nations that fare worse on this type of inequality – such as Russia, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.
  • By contrast, Turkey is ranked 130th for equality between men and women – one of the worst countries in the world by this measure – yet people there are among the most concerned about this issue.

Inequality in educational outcomes for children and inequality in health and life expectancies

  • On average across the 28 countries, three in 10 (32%) highlight concerns about education as being among the most serious in their country.
  • Concern is highest in Turkey (56%), Chile (49%) and Peru (48%) and lowest in Poland (15%), Italy (16%) and Saudi Arabia (18%).
  • Three in 10 (31%) also highlight inequality in health and life expectancies as being one of the most serious in their country. This is highest in Chile (64%), Peru (56%) and Brazil (50%) and lowest in South Korea (10%), Japan (14%) and Malaysia (19%). 

Inequalities between racial or ethnic groups

  • Around three in 10 (29%) believe inequalities between racial or ethnic groups is one of the most serious forms of inequality in their country.
  • This is much higher than average in South Africa (65%) and the United States. In contrast, concern on this measure is much lower in South Korea (8%), Argentina (9%) and Japan (10%).
  • A third (34%) of under 35s on average across the 28 countries see inequality between racial or ethnic groups as one of the most serious types of inequality in their country, compared with 27% of those aged 50 to 74.

Intergenerational inequality

Inequality between older generations and younger generations is seen as the least important form of inequality across the 28 countries with just a quarter (24%) saying it was one of the most serious types of inequality in their country. Concern is higher than average in South Korea (43%), Japan (39%) and Singapore (38%).  But this form of inequality is considered less serious than the 28 country average in South Africa and Turkey (both 13%) and Brazil and Germany (both 16%).

 

[1] https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SI.POV.GINI?most_recent_value_desc=true 

[2] http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GGGR_2020.pdf 

 

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