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Visualizing Global Income Distribution Over 200 Years

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Global Income Distribution infographic

Visualizing Global Income Distribution Over 200 Years

Has the world become more unequal?

With COVID-19 disrupting societies and lower-income countries in particular, social and economic progress made over the last decade is in danger of being reversed. And with rising living costs and inflation across much of the world, experts warn that global income inequality has been exacerbated.

But the good news is that absolute incomes across many poorer countries have significantly risen over the last century of time. And though work remains, poverty levels have fallen dramatically in spite of stark inequality.

To analyze historical trends in global income distribution, this infographic from Our World in Data looks at three periods over the last two centuries. It uses economic data from 1800, 1975, and 2015 compiled by Hans and Ola Rosling.

Methodology

For global income estimates, data was gathered by country across three key variables:

  • Population
  • GDP per capita
  • Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality by statistical distribution

Daily incomes were measured in a hypothetical “international-$” currency, equal to what a U.S. dollar would buy in America in 2011, to allow for comparable incomes across time periods and countries.

Historical Patterns in Global Income Distribution

In 1800, over 80% of the world lived in what we consider extreme poverty today.

At the time, only a small number of countries—predominantly Western European countries, Australia, Canada and the U.S.—saw meaningful economic growth. In fact, research suggests that between 1 CE and 1800 CE the majority of places around the world saw miniscule economic growth (only 0.04% annually).

By 1975, global income distribution became bimodal. Most citizens in developing countries lived below the poverty line, while most in developed countries lived above it, with incomes nearly 10 times higher on average. Post-WWII growth was unusually rapid across developed countries.

Fast forward just 40 years to 2015 and world income distribution changed again. As incomes rose faster in poorer countries than developed ones, many people were lifted out of poverty. Between 1975 and 2015, poverty declined faster than at any other time. Still, steep inequality persisted.

A Tale of Different Economic Outputs

Even as global income distribution has started to even out, economic output has trended in the opposite direction.

As the above interactive chart shows, GDP per capita was much more equal across regions in the 19th century, when it sat around $1,100 per capita on a global basis. Despite many people living below the poverty line during these times, the world also had less wealth to go around.

Today, the global average GDP per capita sits at close to $15,212 or about 14 times higher, but it is not as equally distributed.

At the highest end of the spectrum are Western and European countries. Strong economic growth, greater industrial output, and sufficient legal institutions have helped underpin higher GDP per capita numbers. Meanwhile, countries with the lowest average incomes have not seen the same levels of growth.

This highlights that poverty, and economic prosperity, is heavily influenced by where one lives.

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This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

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Mapped: Inflation Projections by Country, in 2024

Global inflation projections look optimistic in 2024, but risks of a second wave of price pressures remain due to geopolitical shocks.

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This map shows inflation projections around the world in 2024.

Inflation Projections, by Country in 2024

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Global economic prospects hang on a delicate balance, largely hinging on the path of inflation.

While inflation looks to be easing, there remains the risk of a second wave of price pressures driven by geopolitical conflicts and supply disruptions in the Red Sea. Adding to this, a stronger than expected labor market could drive consumer demand, pushing up higher prices.

This graphic shows 2024 inflation projections around the world, based on forecasts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

 

 

Is Global Inflation On a Downward Path?

In 2024, global inflation is projected to decline to 5.8%, down from a 6.8% estimated annual average in 2023.

Tighter monetary policy and falling energy prices are forecast to dampen price pressures alongside a cooling labor market. Below, we show inflation projections across 190 countries:

CountryProjected Annual Inflation Change 2024
🇻🇪 Venezuela230.0%
🇿🇼 Zimbabwe190.2%
🇸🇩 Sudan127.3%
🇦🇷 Argentina69.5%
🇹🇷 Türkiye54.3%
🇪🇬 Egypt25.9%
🇦🇴 Angola25.6%
🇮🇷 Iran25.0%
🇧🇮 Burundi22.4%
🇸🇱 Sierra Leone21.7%
🇸🇷 Suriname20.0%
🇪🇹 Ethiopia18.5%
🇵🇰 Pakistan17.5%
🇳🇬 Nigeria15.4%
🇲🇼 Malawi15.2%
🇬🇭 Ghana15.0%
🇾🇪 Yemen15.0%
🇲🇳 Mongolia12.8%
🇭🇹 Haiti12.7%
🇺🇿 Uzbekistan10.7%
🇹🇳 Tunisia10.6%
🇹🇲 Turkmenistan10.0%
🇺🇦 Ukraine10.0%
🇲🇬 Madagascar8.6%
🇰🇬 Kyrgyz Republic8.0%
🇿🇲 Zambia7.9%
🇲🇺 Mauritius7.8%
🇬🇳 Guinea7.8%
🇰🇿 Kazakhstan7.5%
🇧🇩 Bangladesh7.2%
🇲🇲 Myanmar7.2%
🇸🇹 São Tomé and Príncipe7.2%
🇬🇲 The Gambia7.1%
🇨🇩 Democratic Republic of the Congo7.1%
🇩🇿 Algeria6.8%
🇹🇯 Tajikistan6.5%
🇳🇵 Nepal6.5%
🇰🇪 Kenya6.5%
🇲🇿 Mozambique6.5%
🇹🇴 Tonga6.2%
🇸🇸 South Sudan6.1%
🇱🇷 Liberia6.0%
🇺🇾 Uruguay5.7%
🇻🇺 Vanuatu5.6%
🇵🇱 Poland5.5%
🇬🇾 Guyana5.5%
🇷🇼 Rwanda5.5%
🇭🇺 Hungary5.4%
🇳🇦 Namibia5.3%
🇬🇶 Equatorial Guinea5.2%
🇧🇹 Bhutan5.1%
🇦🇿 Azerbaijan5.0%
🇯🇲 Jamaica5.0%
🇱🇸 Lesotho5.0%
🇲🇩 Moldova5.0%
🇷🇺 Russia5.0%
🇺🇬 Uganda5.0%
🇳🇮 Nicaragua4.8%
🇵🇬 Papua New Guinea4.7%
🇷🇴 Romania4.7%
🇬🇹 Guatemala4.6%
🇼🇸 Samoa4.5%
🇿🇦 South Africa4.5%
🇸🇰 Slovak Republic4.5%
🇨🇴 Colombia4.5%
🇮🇳 India4.4%
🇧🇼 Botswana4.4%
🇸🇿 Eswatini4.3%
🇱🇻 Latvia4.3%
🇭🇳 Honduras4.2%
🇳🇷 Nauru4.2%
🇧🇪 Belgium4.0%
🇮🇸 Iceland4.0%
🇹🇿 Tanzania4.0%
🇰🇮 Kiribati4.0%
🇲🇷 Mauritania4.0%
🇵🇾 Paraguay4.0%
🇷🇸 Serbia4.0%
🇩🇴 Dominican Republic4.0%
🇦🇲 Armenia4.0%
🇧🇷 Brazil3.9%
🇸🇴 Somalia3.9%
🇹🇻 Tuvalu3.8%
🇧🇴 Bolivia3.8%
🇧🇾 Belarus3.7%
🇨🇲 Cameroon3.7%
🇽🇰 Kosovo3.7%
🇪🇪 Estonia3.6%
🇧🇧 Barbados3.6%
🇸🇧 Solomon Islands3.6%
🇦🇱 Albania3.6%
🇦🇺 Australia3.4%
🇪🇸 Spain3.4%
🇵🇭 Philippines3.4%
🇻🇳 Vietnam3.4%
🇲🇦 Morocco3.3%
🇸🇮 Slovenia3.3%
🇦🇹 Austria3.2%
🇭🇷 Croatia3.2%
🇨🇬 Republic of Congo3.2%
🇳🇴 Norway3.2%
🇸🇬 Singapore3.2%
🇲🇽 Mexico3.2%
🇹🇩 Chad3.1%
🇲🇪 Montenegro3.1%
🇱🇹 Lithuania3.1%
🇨🇷 Costa Rica3.0%
🇰🇭 Cambodia3.0%
🇮🇹 Italy3.0%
🇨🇱 Chile3.0%
🇬🇪 Georgia3.0%
🇬🇼 Guinea-Bissau3.0%
🇮🇶 Iraq3.0%
🇱🇦 Lao P.D.R.3.0%
🇫🇲 Micronesia3.0%
🇩🇲 Dominica2.9%
🇸🇪 Sweden2.8%
🇩🇪 Germany2.8%
🇬🇷 Greece2.7%
🇲🇾 Malaysia2.7%
🇮🇪 Ireland2.6%
🇯🇵 Japan2.6%
🇫🇯 Fiji2.6%
🇲🇭 Marshall Islands2.6%
🇬🇩 Grenada2.6%
🇺🇸 United States2.6%
🇵🇹 Portugal2.6%
🇮🇱 Israel2.6%
🇧🇸 The Bahamas2.6%
🇯🇴 Jordan2.6%
🇱🇾 Libya2.5%
🇳🇿 New Zealand2.5%
🇧🇯 Benin2.5%
🇩🇰 Denmark2.5%
🇩🇯 Djibouti2.5%
🇸🇲 San Marino2.5%
🇹🇱 Timor-Leste2.5%
🇮🇩 Indonesia2.5%
🇦🇬 Antigua and Barbuda2.5%
🇳🇪 Niger2.5%
🇨🇫 Central African Republic2.5%
🇵🇸 West Bank and Gaza2.5%
🇲🇻 Maldives2.4%
🇲🇹 Malta2.4%
🇳🇱 Netherlands2.4%
🇸🇨 Seychelles2.4%
🇬🇧 United Kingdom2.4%
🇬🇦 Gabon2.4%
🇰🇳 St. Kitts and Nevis2.3%
🇭🇰 Hong Kong SAR2.3%
🇲🇰 North Macedonia2.3%
🇦🇪 UAE2.3%
🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago2.3%
🇶🇦 Qatar2.3%
🇵🇦 Panama2.2%
🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia2.2%
🇵🇪 Peru2.2%
🇨🇾 Cyprus2.2%
🇨🇿 Czech Republic2.2%
🇹🇬 Togo2.2%
🇧🇬 Bulgaria2.2%
🇦🇼 Aruba2.2%
🇨🇦 Canada2.1%
🇧🇦 Bosnia and Herzegovina2.1%
🇱🇨 St. Lucia2.1%
🇦🇩 Andorra2.0%
🇧🇫 Burkina Faso2.0%
🇨🇻 Cabo Verde2.0%
🇨🇮 Côte d'Ivoire2.0%
🇰🇷 Korea2.0%
🇲🇱 Mali2.0%
🇻🇨 St. Vincent and the Grenadines2.0%
🇨🇭 Switzerland1.9%
🇵🇷 Puerto Rico1.9%
🇨🇳 China1.9%
🇫🇮 Finland1.9%
🇫🇷 France1.9%
🇹🇼 Taiwan1.8%
🇵🇼 Palau1.8%
🇹🇭 Thailand1.8%
🇱🇺 Luxembourg1.7%
🇸🇻 El Salvador1.7%
🇲🇴 Macao SAR1.7%
🇴🇲 Oman1.7%
🇰🇲 Comoros1.6%
🇧🇳 Brunei Darussalam1.5%
🇪🇨 Ecuador1.5%
🇧🇭 Bahrain1.4%
🇧🇿 Belize1.2%
🇸🇳 Senegal0.3%

Venezuela, with the largest oil reserves globally, is projected to see inflation reach 230%—the highest overall.

Across the last decade, the country has faced hyperinflation, reaching a stunning 10 million percent in 2019. Since U.S. sanctions were lifted last year, inflation has fallen dramatically due to sharp cuts in government spending and increasing dollarization of the economy, which is bolstering the bolivar.

In America, slower economic growth coupled with a softening labor market could ease inflation, which is forecast to reach 2.6% in 2024. While the Federal Reserve has signaled that the worst is over, unexpected momentum across the economy could cloud the outcome. As of November 2023, $290 billion in excess savings were held across American households, which may continue to spur consumer demand.

Over in Europe, inflation is anticipated to average 3.3% across advanced economies. Today, sinking natural gas prices and low GDP growth are keeping inflation expectations at bay.

China, the world’s second-largest economy, is contending with falling prices due to property market trouble, which drives about a third of the country’s economic growth. Amid sluggish economic activity, a manufacturing slowdown, and low consumer confidence, inflation is forecast to reach 1.7%.

What Could Cause Inflation to Re-Accelerate?

While inflation shocks driven from the pandemic appear to be over, key risks could drive up inflation:

  • Geopolitical Pressures: Rising shipping costs due to the conflict in the Middle East and Red Sea could continue to escalate and energy prices could increase amid disrupted supply, driving inflation higher.
  • Strong Consumer Demand: Accumulated excess savings could continue to fuel economies, leading central banks to remain hawkish. Persistently high wage growth—which increased about double the pre-pandemic average across advanced nations in 2023—could boost consumption and higher prices.
  • Rising Housing Costs: Shelter makes up about a third of the Consumer Price Index, the biggest component overall. If prices accelerate, it presents key inflationary risks. As of January 2024, U.S. shelter costs increased 6% annually.

So far, the global economy has been resilient. While risk factors remain, inflation projections suggest that the path towards a 2% target is slow, but going in the right direction.

 

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