Sat, Aug 17, 2013 - Page 13 News List

Wealth gap is the lowest since 2008

By Amy Su  /  Staff reporter

The average annual disposable income of the nation’s richest families last year was 6.13 times higher than that of the poorest families, which is slightly lower than the 6.17 times recorded in 2011, indicating that the nation’s wealth gap has remained relatively steady, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday.

The 6.13 times also marked the lowest level since 2008, DGBAS data showed.

If social welfare subsidies and tax benefits were excluded, the ratio between the highest-income group and the lowest-income group would have reached 7.7 times last year — its lowest level since 2007, DGBAS said.

“The nation still saw economic growth last year [from 2011], albeit at a slowing pace, with the jobless rate also slightly improving during that period, which helped to narrow the wealth gap,” DGBAS section head Chuang Wen-kuan (莊文寬) told a press conference.

The government’s move to raise eight social welfare allowances last year, which cost the government more than NT$10 billion (US$333.31 million) per year, was also a major factor behind the narrowing of the income gap, Chuang said.

More people applied for retirement payouts last year than in 2011 and withdrew NT$430 million from the labor insurance fund amid concerns about the fund’s long-term efficiency, up from the NT$260 million withdrawn in 2011, which helped contract the gap in terms of nominal figures, DGBAS data showed.

The DGBAS has conducted an annual survey of family incomes and expenditures since 1964 to keep tabs on wealth distribution.

The survey divides families into five brackets in terms of annual disposable income, with the top 20 percent defined as the richest and the bottom 20 percent as the poorest.

The latest survey found that the average annual disposable income of the richest families was NT$1.85 million last year, compared with NT$301,000 for those in the poorest bracket.

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