Official statistics indicate declining household income inequality in Malaysia, in contrast to the trend of rising inequality in major Asian economies. However, Malaysia’s policy documents pay little attention to this track record, while public discourses generally assert that inequality has risen, or remained persistently high. Due to the inaccessibility of official survey datasets, we assemble data from alternative sources which offer notable, albeit qualified, insights. Wage inequality registers a modest rise in the 2000s, marked by rapid growth in the uppermost segments. Car sales and property sales also show rising concentration at the top. Distribution in the largest unit trust funds reflect increasing inequality, driven more by accumulation in the upper-middle segments. Our findings are consistent with general perceptions of rising inequality, and underscore the multidimensionality of inequality and the importance of structural inequalities in labour and asset markets.
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