Since 1985, income inequality has grown more pronounced in 17 of the 22 countries for which the OECD has long-term data, including Mexico, Italy, Japan, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.
The OECD's report suggests an explanation for why the Occupy Wall Street movement has grown from a single protest site in New York's Zuccotti Park to a global phenomenon with hundreds of chapters in dozens of countries. Among other things, protesters in the Occupy movement say they oppose the concentration of wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer people.
In the United States, the incomes of the very highest earners have grown by leaps and bounds over the last quarter century, while remaining more or less flat for the vast majority of the population.
Comparable growth in the wealth gap has taken place in Germany, Finland, Israel, Sweden, Luxembourg and New Zealand, according to the OECD. Only five countries -- Greece, Turkey, France, Belgium and Hungary -- saw their levels of income inequality decline or remain constant.more