More than a third of nation's income belongs to top 10%

More than a third of Ireland's income is in the hands of the top 10% of earners, a new report on economic equality has found.

The report comes from social think-tank Tasc, which is warning the country will move closer to the same levels of inequality as that seen in the United States, unless action is taken.

The social change think-tank said Ireland is the most unequal country in the EU when it comes to income distribution, before taxes and social welfare are included.

Among the key statistics in the report are:

• The top 1% of income earners in Ireland averaged €373,300 compared to €27,400 for the bottom 90%.

• The top 10% hold somewhere between 42% to 58% of Ireland’s wealth compared to 12% for the bottom 50%.

• Workers’ share of national income fell from 65% in 1990 to less than 56% in 2009.

"It's the first time there's been a comprehensive examination of economic inequality in Ireland," said Dr Nat O'Connor, who contributed to the report.

"What we find is a mixed picture - we're not as unequal as America but we're moving n that direction.

"Our social welfare system plays an important role in lowering inequality, but we also need to look at public services and the cost of living in particular - the cost of goods and services."

Co-author Cormac Staunton said that the idea that economic growth will address current inequalities is " a myth".

He also said that the low levels of tax in Ireland - particularly in social insurance - prevent the country from providing the same type of public services as our European neighbours.

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