If you thought income inequality was bad, get a load of wealth inequality

By:  Christopher Ingraham

When we think about and discuss economic inequality in this country, we usually focus on income inequality: The CEO who makes 300 times more than his workers, or the fact that the top 20 percent of earners rake in over 50 percent of the total earnings in any given year.

But there's another type of inequality that gets a lot less attention. It arguably contributes far more to the divide between the haves and have-nots in this country, and it's been highlighted in a huge new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development: wealth inequality.

Income is the amount of money you earn from your work or your investments. But wealth is the amount of stuff you own: your house, your car, savings, retirement accounts, etc. The great thing about wealth is that it's self-perpetuating. Your house gains value over time (so you hope). You can take $1,000, invest it in something that yields a 10 percent return, and have $1,100 by the year's end. Cool!

The OECD report finds that the richest 10 percent of American households earns about 28 percent of the overall income pie. This is a lot, but it's roughly consistent with what you see in the world's other rich countries.

By contrast, the wealthiest 10 percent of U.S. households have captured a whopping 76 percent of all the wealth in America. And that number is considerably higher than in other rich nations, as the chart below shows.

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