Across the globe, there is increasing concern about inequality. Empirical evidence suggests that income inequality has grown in many developed economies over the last three decades, although there is considerable diversity in the extent and timeframe of this trend. The Great Recession of 2008–2009 has intensified this growing interest in inequality, both due to the impact of the ongoing economic crisis on inequality levels and due to the general perception that the increase in inequality may be one of the factors triggering and protracting the crisis itself.
There is an increasingly large body of research on wages and particularly on income inequality in European countries. However, there are very few studies that take the EU perspective and, as far as the present study can discern, none of them focuses on wages. The report gives an overview of recent developments in the distribution of wages in Europe from 2004 to 2011 – the period before and after the onset of the Great Recession. The main focus is on the EU dimension, although the report analyses relevant trends and developments within countries in a comparative perspective as well. The findings are drawn from two key data sources: the EU Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) – with yearly data for the period 2004–2011 – and the Structure of Earnings Survey (SES) – using data from its 2002, 2006 and 2010 survey waves.