DP12405 Measuring inequality in the Middle East 1990-2016: The World's Most Unequal Region?

Author(s): Facundo Alvaredo, Lydia Assouad, Thomas Piketty
Publication Date: October 2017
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Programme Areas: Public Economics
Link to this Page: www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=12405

In this paper we combine household surveys, national accounts, income tax data and wealth data in order to estimate the level and evolution of income concentration in the Middle East for the period 1990-2016. According to our benchmark series, the Middle East appears to be the most unequal region in the world, with a top decile income share as large as 61%, as compared to 36% in Western Europe, 47% in the USA and 55% in Brazil. This is due both to enormous inequality between countries (particularly between oil-rich and population-rich countries) and to large inequality within countries (which we probably under-estimate, given the limited access to proper fiscal data). We stress the importance of increasing transparency on income and wealth in the Middle East, as well as the need to develop mechanisms of regional redistribution and investment.