The top 10 per cent earners in India made over 69 per cent of the country’s labour income in 2017, in contrast to 0.25 per cent made by the bottom 10 per cent earners, according to a global report by the UN arm International Labour Organisation (ILO). This gap has been consistent in India since 2004, when the top decile had earned about 70 per cent of the total income and the poorest 10 per cent had earned 0.30 per cent.
Globally, the top 10 per cent earners made a little under half the total income of 2017, compared to less than 2 per cent earned by the the lowest paid 30 per cent workers, said the report, which covered 189 countries. On an average, the bottom 10 per cent workers earned $22 a month in 2017 while the top decile earned $7,475. In other words, the poorest 10 per cent would need to work three centuries more if they were to reach the $7,475 level of the top decile.
While the pay inequality has remained consistent in India, it has reduced at the global workplace in the last 13 years. The income share of the richest 10 per cent was down to 48.9 per cent in 2017 from 55.5 per cent in 2004. While the report attributed this to the rise of emerging markets such as China and India, the pay inequality in these countries is more pronounced. China’s 10 per cent richest workers earned 42.12 per cent of its labour income against the bottom decile’s 0.47 per cent in 2017.
Worldwide, the income share of the middle 60 per cent workers grew to 30.2 per cent in 2017 from 23.6 per cent in 2004, while the share of the richest 20 per cent workers came down by 6.8 percentage points.