With a hat-tip to Bella Caledonia, I think these videos are worth sharing as widely as possible.
I'm sure we've all seen many tables which compare average incomes in the UK with those of the rest of the OECD, and we generally get the impression that the UK is comfortably in the middle.
But the fact that the UK has such a huge gap in income between the richest few percent and the rest of us artificially inflates the UK's position in these tables, with the result that the poorest 20% in the UK are significantly worse off than the same 20% in the rest of the OECD.
This is from the High Pay Centre blog:
What would the neighbours say? How inequality means the UK is poorer than we think
Analysis of OECD figures suggests the poorest fifth of the UK population are the poorest in Western Europe
The poorest fifth of UK households are significantly worse off than the poorest fifth in other Western European countries, according to analysis of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) data published by the High Pay Centre think-tank today.
The High Pay Centre examined the ‘OECD Better Life Index’ which estimates the average net disposable household income for the world’s richest economies, as well as the average for the poorest and richest 20% of households in each country.
In the UK, the incomes of the poorest fifth of households have an average income of just $9,530, much lower than the poorest fifth in other North West European countries such as Germany ($13,381), France ($12,653), Denmark ($12, 183) or the Netherlands ($11,274).
In fact, the poorest households in the UK are closer to the poorest in former Eastern bloc countries Slovenia and the Czech Republic than to the poor in Western Europe. This is despite the fact that the OECD estimates average incomes in the UK ($25,828) are similar to Denmark ($25,172) and the Netherlands ($25,697). The UK’s average is inflated by the incomes of the top 20% of households - at around $54,000, the third highest in the EU. In Belgium, the Netherlands and the Nordic countries, the top 20% make between $44,000 and $49,000.
The High Pay Centre analysis also notes that if the UK’s total income of around £1 trillion was divided in the same way as total incomes in Denmark or the Netherlands, 99% of UK households would be better off by around £2,700 per year.
The full report is here.
Hopefully, this information will help put the repeated stories we get about the Welsh economy being on a par with eastern Europe into perspective. A significant part of our poor economic performance is not intrinsically to do with us, but is a failure of the UK state to distribute wealth (for although household income figures are different from regional income figures, there is a correlation, because the super-rich in the UK tend to be concentrated in London and south east England).
Much of the argument for Wales remaining part of the UK is that we are able to "share resources", as Unionist politicians have become fond of saying in the context of the Scottish independence referendum. But what is the point of being in such a union when it is clear that the UK doesn't share them ... or at least doesn't share them to anywhere near the same extent as happens elsewhere in Europe? And what hope is there for the future of the UK when the inequality between rich and poor is rising rather than falling?