Household income gap hit record in 2008

Japan’s household income gap reached its highest level on record in 2008, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has announced.

The so-called Gini coefficient — an indicator used to measure the inequality of income distribution — hit a record 0.5318 in 2008, up 0.0055 points from the previous survey in 2005.

The Gini coefficient ranges in value between 0 and 1, with 0 suggesting the perfect equality and 1 the maximal disparity in wealth distribution.

The average initial household income for 2008 was 4,451,000 yen, down 4.4 percent from the previous survey, while the average household income after the redistribution of national income was 5,179,000 yen — a drop of 5.8 percent from 2005.

Among working generations, the intra-generation income gap was relatively large among those aged 29 or younger, with the index remaining at 0.344 even after tax and social insurance payments.

The survey also revealed that the working generations failed to benefit from the income redistribution, with all households headed by those under 60 years paying more premiums than they received as welfare benefits.