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Overview of Trends of Economic Inequality in Spain


Has the dispersion of earnings been increasing in recent decades?Insufficient evidence.
Has overall inequality increased in recent years?Yes, the Gini coefficient for household disposable income increased by 4 percentage points from 2003 to 2011.
Have there been periods when overall inequality fell for a sustained period?Some evidence of fall in inequality (as well as poverty) up to 1990s.
Has poverty been falling or rising in recent decades?No evident trend.
Has there been a U-pattern for top income shares over time?No. Recent increase in top income share is not salient.
Has the distribution of wealth followed the same pattern as income?No evidence.
Additional noteworthy features

Sources and References

Sources for the historical data series:

Overall inequality: Gini coefficient of household income, series 1, is from Family Budget surveys from United Nations (1981, page 297); series 2 relates to per capita household expenditure from Escribano (1990, cuadro 4); series 3 is from EU-SILC, downloaded from Eurostat website, Income and Living Conditions in Europe, Table 5, linked at 2003 to the series related to equivalised (square root scale) disposable household income among individuals from Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) website Key Figures.

Top income shares: Share of top 1 and 10 per cent in total gross income from WTID, based on work of Alvaredo and Saez (2010).

Poverty: Series 1: Percentage of individuals living in households below poverty threshold, series 1 relates to those with per capita household expenditure below 50 per cent of the mean, from Escribano (1990, cuadro 5); series 2 relates to those with equivalised (EU scale) disposable income less than 60 per cent of the median from EU-SILC, downloaded from Eurostat website, Europe 2020 indicators. Data are linked at 2003 with the series related to those with equivalised (square root scale) disposable income less than 60 per cent of the median from Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) Key Figures. The data are further linked back at 1995 to the series related to those with equivalised (OECD scale) disposable income less than 60 per cent of the median from Cantó, del Rio and Gradin (2003, Tabla 2).

Individual earnings: From OECD iLibrary, Employment and Labour Market Statistics, Gross earnings decile ratio.

Wealth: no suitable data were found.


  • Alvaredo, F and Saez, E, 2010, “Income and wealth concentration in Spain on a historical and fiscal perspective” in A B Atkinson and T Piketty, editors, Top incomes: A global perspective, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Cantó, O, del Rio, C, and Gradin, c, 2003, “La evolucion de la pobreza estática y dynámica en España en el periodo 1985-1995”, Hacienda Pública Española, vol 167; 87-119.
  • Escribano, C, 1990, “Evolucion de la pobreza y la desigualdad en España, 1973- 1987”, Información Comercial Española, Octobre: 81-108.
  • United Nations, 1981, A survey of national sources of income distribution statistics, Statistics Papers, series M, number 79, United Nations, New York.