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Economic Daily News: Income gap worsens as national wealth rises
Central News Agency
2014-09-01 11:17 AM
The latest government statistics indicate that Taiwan's gross and net national wealth continued to rise to NT$197.5 trillion and NT$155.1 trillion, respectively, in 2012. The figures represent increases of NT$10.4 trillion and NT$8.2 trillion, respectively, from the previous year due to asset appreciation, particularly land values. Just as Taiwan's national wealth has been expanding since 2007, however, the problem of income disparity has also been worsening. As a result of rising asset values, many rich people who own a large number of properties and securities can obtain considerable capital gains effortlessly. By comparison, ordinary people have to live on meager wages and shoulder large mortgages to buy their own homes. With salary levels remaining stagnant and even regressing, many young people have trouble making ends meet, not to mention buying homes of their own. Based on the annual survey of family income and expenditure conducted by the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics, the income of the richest 20 percent of Taiwanese households was 6.08 times that of the poorest 20 percent in 2013. Income tax data from the Ministry of Finance show that the average income of the top 5 percent of wage earners was 95.56 times that of the bottom 5 percent in 2011, much higher than 65.38 times in 2008. According to the results of a local study, the richest 1 percent of Taiwanese families -- totaling 50,000 to 60,000 -- owned 14 percent of Taiwan's total income in 2011. Compared with OECD countries, the degree of income concentration in Taiwan was lower only than that of the United States and was higher than Japan, France and Sweden. The government must act more proactively to address the worsening wealth gap. It needs to build a healthy economic environment in which people are compensated fairly for the work they do and conduct a reasonable redistribution of resources. (Editorial abstract -- Sept. 1, 2014) (By Y.F. Low)
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