Home > Politics > Inequality in Egypt — and America

Inequality in Egypt — and America

Protesters surround a tank in Egypt. Photo: The New York Times.

I don’t know much about Egypt, apart from what everyone knows: It has a corrupt, oppressive government and widespread poverty. It also gets more foreign aid money from our government than any other country except Israel.

But an interesting fact came out. There’s something called the Gini Coefficient that measures inequality of wealth and income.

The Gini coefficient ranges from zero to one, multiplied by 100 to make the number easier to understand.

A lower value means a more equal society, so a value of zero is complete equality. A higher value means a more unequal society, so a value of 100 is complete inequality.

According to the United Nations, Egypt has a Gini coefficient of  34. That means it has more inequality than most European countries and Canada, whose Gini coefficients range from 24 to 36.

But guess what? The United States has a Gini coefficient of 41, which means our society has more inequality than Egypt.

There’s something really wrong with that picture.

Copyright 2011 by Rinth de Shadley.

  1. Rinth
    February 6, 2011 at 6:26 am

    This was really interesting… Thanks for sharing this information. If I get it right, this shows the difference between “the rich and the poor” right? I checked it up on Wikipedia and it says: “Worldwide, Gini coefficients for income range from approximately 0.23 (Sweden) to 0.70 (Namibia) although not every country has been assessed.” It seems like Sweden has the lowest number then :?…

    • February 6, 2011 at 11:52 am

      Hi Rinth 🙂

      Sorry that it took a little while for your comment to appear. I’ve received a few mean or harassing comments, so I turned on comment moderation. From now on, your comments will appear immediately.

      That’s right about Sweden! We hadn’t chatted when I wrote that blog post, so I didn’t think to mention that Sweden has the best Gini coefficient. 🙂

      I really must learn more about your country. I’ve seen Swedish movies but that’s about all I know, except what I’ve already learned from you. I’m Catholic but of course we learn about Islam, let me see if I remember the five pillars: M is the prophet, prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, and … um … what’s the last one? Deeds of loving kindness? But we are all people of the Book. It’s so sad that some people in both of our religions are always looking for a fight.

      • Rinth
        February 6, 2011 at 1:36 pm

        You know it’s so hard to find Christians around here! Most Swedes don’t really have any religion… so it’s really nice to meet someone who at least partly understands your view on things, if you get what I mean.

        And the fourth pillar of Islam is zakat, which basically is almsgiving… a sort of “tax” you pay to the poor, depending on how much wealth you have.

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