Korea’s middle class shrinks as income disparity grows

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Korea’s middle class shrinks as income disparity grows

The ratio of the middle class in Korea fell slightly last year amid growing income disparity, the finance ministry said Tuesday.

The rate of the middle class stood at 65.7 percent in 2016, down from 67.4 percent a year earlier, according to the ministry.

Korea defines the middle class as households with between 50 and 150 percent of the country’s median income.

Last year, the median income of a four-person household stood at 4.39 million won ($3,900) per month, according to Statistics Korea.

The decline of the middle class is blamed on widening income inequality despite the government’s efforts to narrow the gap between the rich and poor.

Korea’s total income distribution ratio - a key barometer of earnings equality - reached 9.32 last year, up from 8.24 tallied in 2015.

It means that the top 20 percent income bracket had nine times more earnings than those in the bottom 20 percent last year.

But in terms of disposable income, the ratio reached 5.45 last year, up slightly from the previous year’s 5.11. YONHAP

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