How Income Disparity Increased During Moon Presidency

      February 16, 2022 12:43

      Income disparity increased drastically since President Moon Jae-in took office despite his government's much-touted efforts to make Korea a fairer society.

      The top 10 percent of wage earners' annual incomes rose by W14.3 million, but the bottom 10 percent's edged up only W190,000 over the four years since 2017 (US$1=W1,197).

      According to National Tax Service, the top 10 percent of wage earners' annual incomes rose from W122.4 million in 2016 to W136.7 million in 2020. Over the same period, the bottom 10 percent saw their annual incomes edge up from W1.77 million to W1.96 million.

      But the growth rate of the two groups was similar at 11.6 percent for the top 10 percent and 10.1 percent for the bottom 10 percent.

      What stands out is that the bottom 10 percent's annual earnings actually fell in 2020. People in that income bracket, mostly owners of small businesses, saw their annual earnings increase gradually from 1.86 million in 2017 to W2.07 million in 2019, but then they dropped to W1.96 million because the coronavirus lockdown sapped their livelihood.

      This fall in the earnings of the bottom 10 percent increased overall income disparity from 69.2 times in 2016 to 69.8 times in 2020.

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