By Michael Mumper
Last fall, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the City of Atlanta has the highest Income Inequality of all metropolitan cities in the United States.
Really? How is that measured? And how bad are we? And is it actually a bad thing?
The “Gini Coefficient” measure
In the 1920’s an Italian economist and statistician named Corrado Gini developed a measure of “statistical dispersion” that is used to measure how wide differences are in income and wealth, though the measure has also proven helpful in other fields. This measure is now known as the Gini coefficient.
Using the Gini coefficient to measure income differences, a score of 0 means everyone has the same income, while 100 represents the maximum disparity (as in one person earning all the income). Of 134 countries whose income disparities have been measured, Sweden’s is lowest at 23 (Sweden is “the” socialist country, right?), while Namibia is highest at 71. (In the chart referenced in the previous link, you can click on the up/down arrows at the top of the chart to sort that column. In this article I am referencing the CIA numbers.)