CHART: The Anxieties Of The Rich As They Contemplate A Post-GFC World

Copacabana Beach during the Vem Ni Mim Que Sou Facinha street carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Mario Tama/Getty Images

The GFC (Global Financial Crisis) hurt the world’s big income earners, sending their earnings on a slide, according to a study by the OECD.

In nine OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries for which data are available, the top 1% of earners saw their earnings fall by 3% in 2008 followed by an even bigger drop of 6.6% in 2009.

However, by 2010 the worst was over.

The incomes of the top 1% rose by 4% while pretty much everyone else’s stagnated.

In the US, the share of pre-tax income making its way to the top 1% has more than doubled since 1980, hitting 20% in 2012.

There were notable rises in other English-speaking countries including Australia, Canada, Ireland and the UK.

Even within the group of top-income earners, incomes became more concentrated, tilting towards the richest of the rich.

In the United States, the share of the top 0.1% grew from 2% to over 8% of total pre-tax incomes from 1980 to 2010.

By comparison, the top 0.1% account for 4% to 5% of total pre-tax incomes in Canada, the United Kingdom and Switzerland, and close to 3% in Australia, New Zealand and France.

Not much movement is observed at the top of the income distribution: from one year to the next, not more than 30% leave the group of the richest 1% in the United States, Canada and France, compared to around 40% in Australia.

This chart shows share of income by the top 1%:

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