Germany Beating European Peers in Income Equality, OECD Says

Incomes in Germany have been more evenly distributed than in other big European Union countries since the start of the financial crisis, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said.

Germany’s Gini coefficient, a measure of income inequality, has been below that of France, Italy and the U.K. as well as below the OECD average since 2007, the Paris-based body said in a report released yesterday and posted on its website. Income in the EU’s four biggest economies was distributed more evenly than in the U.S.

“In the first three years of the financial and economic crisis, the inequality of gross income in the OECD increased more than in the twelve years before,” the OECD said. In Germany, “inequality in market and disposable income remained near the pre-crisis level.” The data cover the period from 1995 through 2010.

The OECD report further bolsters Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government four months before a federal election amid broad voter support for her handling of the euro region crisis. While “the world is growing more uneven, Germany isn’t,” Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union-led bloc said today in a Twitter Inc. message referencing the OECD’s findings.

IG Metall, Germany’s biggest labor union, won a 5.6 percent pay deal in the state of Bavaria yesterday that sets a benchmark for a national accord and raises wages at companies from Siemens AG to Bayerische Motoren Werke AG. The union and the Gesamtmetall employers group agreed to the increase over 20 months for about 770,000 workers.

German Exuberance

Deutsche Lufthansa AG reached an accord with the Ver.di union on May 1 on pay and job security covering 33,000 employees that grants pay raises of as much as 5.2 percent in two stages, one in August and the other a year later.

Germany contrasts with the wider euro area. Exports from Germany increased 3.2 percent in March while French shipments rose 3.1 percent and Italian exports grew 0.5 percent, the EU’s statistics office in Luxembourg said today. Germany’s adjusted jobless rate held at 6.9 percent in April, just above a two-decade low, as euro-area unemployment reaches a record 12.1 percent.

The OECD report showed that of Europe’s four biggest economies the share of the population with an income of less than 50 percent of the national median was the lowest in France, followed by Germany, the U.K. and then Italy.

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