Income inequality: nearly 40 per cent of total income goes to people belonging to highest (fifth) quintile

This article presents data on income inequality, measured by the Gini coefficient, across the EU-28 and three EFTA countries. Income inequality is a complex phenomenon, the result of interaction between several factors. It can be related to employment patterns, income sources, individual characteristics (education level, age, gender, etc.) or household features (number of earners in the household, family size, etc.). Inequality is a broader concept than poverty; while poverty mainly relates to the lowest part of the income distribution, inequality takes into account the living conditions of all people in a society.

The analysis showed that Norway and Slovenia had the lowest level of inequality (as measured by the Gini coefficient) in Europe in 2012, and that Spain and Latvia had the highest level. Overall, twelve countries had a level of inequality higher than the EU-28 average in 2012. In Europe, nearly 40 % of total equivalised income goes on average to people belonging to the highest (fifth) income quintile, and less than 10 % to people in the first quintile. This distribution of income explains the income discrepancies among people. It should be noted that inequality decreased in 12 EU countries in 2008-12, mainly due to the income losses seen in the upper part of the income distribution during the financial and economic crisis.