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IMF chief: to beat inequality, close the gender gap

© GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP | "A no-brainer": International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde says the best way to reduce economic inequality around the world is to close the gender gap between men and women in opportunity and pay

WASHINGTON (AFP) - 

IMF chief Christine Lagarde said Thursday that the best way to reduce inequality around the world would be to eliminate the gap between women and men in the economic sphere.

Asked whether she thought that raising taxes on the wealthy was the preferred approach, Lagarde said she disagreed.

"The most efficient way to reduce the inequalities would be to actually close the gender gap between men and women. And that is a no-brainer," she said.

"Whether it is access to the labor market, whether it is access to finance, whether it's the gender gap in terms of compensation, that would achieve a lot in order to reduce inequalities. And that applies across the world."

Lagarde was speaking at the opening of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank's annual meetings, where countries are being pressed to combat rising economic disparities.

A study by the IMF released this week suggested that raising taxes on the wealthy would help bring a more healthy income balance to some countries.

That appeared to be directed in part at the United States, where President Donald Trump's push to revise the tax code, critics say, will make the rich even richer.

Lagarde said the IMF proposal was more specific for advanced countries, which have generally lowered their tax rates in recent decades.

In those, she said, "increasing the higher brackets would not prejudice growth."

"There are countries where clearly reducing excessive inequalities would support growth," the IMF chief added.

However, she reiterated, a focus on eliminating the gap between men and women in all economies "would significantly reduce inequalities."

© 2017 AFP