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What are some examples of how to measure income distribution?

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Income distribution over time often is measured by the proportion of income held by the top 1 percent of the population. Other measures that take more nuanced views of income distribution include the Gini Coefficient, which measures how far a selected income distribution varies from a calculated line of equality that represents a theoretically perfectly equally distribution of incomes.

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Income distribution varies widely from country to country, with economies such as the United States and United Kingdom demonstrating sharply rising inequality in the years from the 1970s to 2015, while Japan and mainland Europe show a tendency to a slower rate of increase in inequality over time. Globally, however, particularly thanks to changes in South America, income distribution seems to be approaching a more equal distribution as of 2015. Experts such as Dr. Max Roser argue that this indicates that global income distribution is becoming more equal.

A key provider of research on global and country-by-country income distribution is the World Bank. It publishes a range of resources on global inequality and its effects, including graphs that demonstrate changing income distributions over time. OurWorldInData.org also provides a range of graphs demonstrating various income distributions across the world and through time.

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