"In a 20-year study of its member countries, the [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] found inequality had increased in 27 of its 30 members as top earners' incomes soared while others' stagnated.
The United States has the highest inequality and poverty rates in the OECD after Mexico and Turkey, and the gap has increased rapidly since 2000, the report said. France, meanwhile, has seen inequalities fall in the past 20 years as poorer workers are better paid.
Rising inequality threatens social mobility - children doing better than their parents, the poor improving their lot through hard work - which is lower in countries like the U.S., Great Britain and Italy, where inequality is high, than countries with less inequality such as Denmark, Sweden and Australia, the report said.
Wealthy households are not only widening the gap with the poor, but in countries such as the U.S., Canada and Germany they are also leaving middle-income earners further behind, with potentially ominous consequences if the global financial crisis sparks a long recession."