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Visualizing global income inequality

Use our interactive tool to explore how the income distribution within and between countries has changed over time.


For up to seven countries of your choice, for the period between 1980 and 2014, you can:

  • create a ‘skyscraper’ diagram, like the one below,
  • view the Lorenz curves and Gini coefficients, and
  • compare the rich/poor ratio of incomes within each country.

The interactive visualization builds on Figure 1.2 in The Economy and Figure 1.1 in Economy, Society, and Public Policy.

Global income inequality

The global distribution of income has changed dramatically since 1980. The figure below shows the world income distribution in 1980, where countries are ordered from poorest in red on the left to richest in green on the right. The height of each bar shows the average income in each decile within a country, ordered from the poorest 10% (at the front) to the richest 10% (at the back).

By 2014, which is the latest available data, many countries have changed their ranking, and the heights of the bars also become more unequal, with some very tall skyscrapers appearing.


Economic inequality learning resource on the LabXchange platform

To learn more about:

  • the trends in income and income inequality over the past few centuries,
  • how to measure inequality, and
  • policies that can address economic inequality

visit CORE’s ‘Economic inequality pathway’, a learning experience assembled like a storyline, which users can go through at their own pace. It consists of slideline figures, text, and items of assessment with immediate feedback which illustrate concepts related to economic inequality.

The pathway is available on LabXchange, Harvard’s online learning platform.

Continue exploring

Access the data

See larger versions of The Economy Figure 1.2 for 1980-2014, and download all the data used to create the figures.

Inequality learning resource on LabXchange

Learn more about the trends in income and income inequality over the past few centuries.