[Excerpt] Across the globe, there is increasing concern about income inequality. Empirical evidence suggests that over the last three decades, income inequality has grown in many developed economies (the extent and time frame of this trend varying considerably). The Great Recession starting in 2008–2009 intensified this concern due to the impact of the ongoing economic crisis on inequality levels, and the general perception that the increase in inequality may have been one of the factors triggering and protracting the crisis.
Although there is a large body of research on trends in income inequality in EU Member States, surprisingly few studies adopt an EU-wide perspective. In this context, this report has two main goals: to provide a comparative analysis of inequality trends in Member States over the course of the Great Recession (updating the picture given by previous international studies); and to discuss relevant trends and developments in inequality for the overall EU distribution of income – including the implications of economic convergence and divergence before and after the crisis. Most of the analysis in this report is drawn from the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) for the period 2005–2014, with income data relating to the period 2004–2013.