The reason of many households are not advancing

Incomes from wages and capital were flat or fell for two-thirds of households in 25 advanced economies between 2005 and 2014—an explosive increase from less than 2 percent in the previous decade.

While it’s broadly assumed that children will grow up to be better off than their parents, the reality is that a new generation of young people in advanced economies risks ending up poorer. In this episode of the McKinsey Podcast, McKinsey senior partner Richard Dobbs and McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) partner Anu Madgavkar talk with Peter Gumbel about the increase in the number of households that experienced flat or falling incomes in the past decade—and the implications for future growth and economic advancement.


Podcast transcript

Peter Gumbel: Hello, I’m Peter Gumbel, senior editor, based in Paris, at the McKinsey Global Institute. Today I’m delighted to be speaking with Richard Dobbs, a McKinsey senior partner in London, and Anu Madgavkar, an MGI partner based in Mumbai. Richard and Anu have been spearheading new research on income inequality for the McKinsey Global Institute, and they’re the coauthors of a new report called Poorer than their parents? Flat or falling incomes in advanced economies. One of its striking conclusions is that two-thirds of households in 25 advanced economies have been affected by this flat-or-falling-income phenomenon. They’re here today to explain what that is, why it’s happening, and what it means. Richard and Anu, thank you for being with me today.

Richard Dobbs: Hello.

Anu Madgavkar: Hi, happy to be here.

Peter Gumbel: Great. Let me start with you, Anu. What exactly do we mean by flat or falling incomes?

Anu Madgavkar: Our research look at groups of households organized by income segments. We’re then able to track what these typical groups have experienced in terms of income growth over the last decade and the period prior to that. When these typical households, in each income segment, see no advancement in terms of their income, we’re able to say that there is a general lack of economic progress.