09/13/2011 11:12 EDT | Updated 11/13/2011 05:12 EST

Canada's Income Gap Rising Faster Than Many Of Its Peers, Including U.S.: Study

OTTAWA - A new study says Canada is rapidly catching up to the United States as a country divided between haves and have-nots.

The Conference Board says income inequality has been rising more in Canada than in the United States since the mid-1990s, and faster than in many peer countries.

In fact, the think-tank says Canada had the fourth-largest increase in income disparity among a sample group of 17 advanced economies during the period.

Overall, income inequality rose in 10 of the countries sampled, rising fastest in Sweden, Finland and Denmark.

Canada was next. It's Gini index, a complicated formula which measures income deviations away from a perfectly equal distribution, rose 9.2 per cent to 0.320.

By contrast, the U.S. had the highest income inequality of the group with a Gini reading of 0.378.

The Conference Board notes that Canada's index number put it in group of countries considered to have a medium range of income inequality.

A reading above 0.4 would designate high levels of income inequality.

Overall, the Conference Board says income inequality has increased for 71 per cent of the world's population.