Data from Southern Europe indicates a trend of wealth distribution to the top 20% of income earners since the onset of austerity. At the outset of the Global Financial Crisis in 2007, the income share of the bottom 20% of income earners in Greece and Portugal increased, whereas the income share of the top 20% of income earners declined. In contrast, the income share of the bottom 20% of income earners in Spain and Italy declined at the outset of the financial crisis, while the income share of the top 20% increased in the same time period.
The onset of austerity in 2010 resulted in a convergence of wage distribution dynamics in Southern Europe. Low income earners have experienced a decline in their income share – with Italy and Spain now joining Portugal and Greece. At the top end, high income earners in Italy and Greece have witnessed a significant increase in their income share – surpassing that of the pre-crisis period. In Spain, top earner income shares have plateaued, but remain significantly higher than income levels in the pre-crisis period. The exception is Portugal, where income shares for the top 20% of income earners has declined since 2011, after an upward trend beginning in 2009. The longer term trend in Portugal, however, is a decline in the income shares of the top 20% of income earners.