Western Europe has lowest levels of income inequality: UN

October 28th, 2008 - 5:27 am ICT by IANS  

New York, Oct 28 (DPA) Western European cities are the most “egalitarian” in the world, said a new study by United Nations Habitat, which compared levels of income inequality in the world’s largest cities.Beijing is the “most equal” in Asia, said UN Habitat, a programme to assist governments in improving housing and living conditions in developing countries.

The study, which was released Monday, said that income inequality is relatively low in Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Slovenia.

It is also low in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

“Low levels of inequality reflect the performance of national and regional economies in these countries and the regulatory, distributive and redistributive capacity of the national and local welfare states,” the study said.

By contrast, US cities like Atlanta, New York, Miami, New Orleans and Washington DC are marked by high income inequality at the same levels of Abidjan, Nairobi, Buenos Aires and Santiago.

The study said that in Canada and the US, one of the most important factors determining levels of inequality is race. It used a complex method known as the Gini coefficient to measure inequality at the national and city level.

While Asian cities are “the most equal,” the study noted, however, that “there are significant income distribution differences among cities (in Asia), even within the same country, which shows that national aggregates are not necessarily reflected at the local level.”

India is currently going through an inequality trend similar to that of China because of economic liberalization and globalization. Both countries are emerging as economic powers and are the world’s most populous nations, with 1.3 billion and 1.1 billion people respectively.

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