A recent issue of the Handelsblatt (the German Wall Street Journal equivalent) had a neat graphic comparison of the U.S. to 5 other major countries: France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K., along the criteria of the Gini coefficients on pre-tax/transfer incomes, post-tax/transfer incomes, and household wealth. Our pre-Gini on incomes is slightly below that in Italy, a bit higher than in the other four countries. The big difference is that our post-Gini is much higher than in all the other countries—0.38 compared to a range of 0.29 to 0.34. We do much less redistribution through transfers and have flatter taxes.
It is thus not surprising that we win the Champions League of Gini wealth inequality: Ours is 0.85, with a range of 0.65 to 0.78 in the other five countries. The tiny tax increase on the top 1 percent of households that took so much political energy last year will do almost nothing to strip us of our championship status.