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Sweden plummets in income equality ranking

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Sweden plummets in income equality ranking
10:25 CEST+02:00
The living conditions of most Swedes have improved in recent decades, but income inequality is growing rapidly, according to a new OECD report, which saw Sweden drop 14 spots from its first place ranking in 1995.

The report, published on Wednesday, saw income distribution in Swedish households take an unparalleled shift between 1995 and 2010, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

"If this development continues for five, ten years, then Sweden won't be a poster child for equality among the OECD countries," Michael Forster, one of the authors of the report, told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper (SvD).

The percentage of poor Swedes in 2010 was nine percent, a figure more than twice as high as in 1995 where it was just four percent.

Such a dramatic change in the OECD's measure of relative poverty has not occurred in any of the other 33 OECD countries.

The organization, however, has been criticized for using the word 'poverty' in its report.

"I don't usually use the word 'poverty' in this context. A measure of this kind is closer to a country's 'income spread'," Hans Heggemann, who makes similar measurements for Statistics Sweden (SCB), told SvD.

"Since the end of the nineties we've seen sharp increases in disposable income in nearly all the groups that we can measure. The richest tenth has got much more than the rest."

The trend of growing rifts has caused an international political debate, especially in the United States, but the topic has not been so widely talked about in Sweden, according to SvD.

TT/The Local/og

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