Is Inequality in Malaysia Really Going Down? A Puzzle Explored
October 13, 2016DECRG Kuala Lumpur Seminar Series

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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  • Hwok-Aun Lee

    Senior Lecturer in the Department of Development Studies, Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Malaya
    Hwok-Aun Lee is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Development Studies, Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Malaya. His research interests include affirmative action, discrimination, inequality, labour, social policy, and education. His recent works have been published in the Journal of Contemporary Asia, Journal of the Asia Pacific Economy, Journal of Asian and African Studies, and in books published by Oxford University Press, Edward Elgar and Routledge. He obtained a PhD in Economics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, an MSc in Political Economic of Development from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, and a BA (Hons) from the University of British Columbia.
  • Muhammed Abdul Khalid

    Director of Research at Khazanah Research Institute
    Muhammed Abdul Khalid is a Director of Research at Khazanah Research Institute. Previously, he was the Head of Economics at the Securities Commission Malaysia; senior analyst at Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Malaysia; and a Research Fellow at University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM); a Teaching Assistant in International Macroeconomics (Graduate Level) at the Institute d’études Politiques de Paris (SciencesPo) in Paris ; among others. His research interest includes issues related to economic inequality and socio-economic development. Muhammed obtained his PhD (first class honors) from the Institute d’etudes Politiques de Paris (SciencesPo), France.
  • WHEN: Thursday, October 13, 2016; 12:30 - 2:00 pm
  • WHERE: World Bank Malaysia Office, Level 3, Sasana Kijang, No. 2, Jalan Dato’ Onn
  • RSVP: Kindly RSVP by Wednesday, October 12, 2016.