Income inequality: the facts


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Christopher Snowdon debunks some of the myths on income inequality inequality briefing formatted.pdf

It is widely believed that income inequality in the UK is rising and will spiral out of control unless action is taken by government. This briefing paper looks at income inequality data from the Office for National Statistics.

The paper shows that there was a rise in inequality in the 1980s, but every standard measure shows no rise since 1990. The top decile (the top 10 per cent of earners) has not raced away from the rest of pack. On the contrary, their share of income has declined slightly since 1990. There is, however, evidence that the top 1 per cent (and the top 0.1 per cent) have increased their share of income, but this has not come at the expense of the bottom 90 per cent: incomes have increased across the board. Despite the recession, average real incomes are twice as high as they were in 1977.

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Head of Lifestyle Economics, IEA

Christopher Snowdon is the Head of Lifestyle Economics at the IEA. He is the author of The Art of Suppression, The Spirit Level Delusion and Velvet Glove; Iron Fist. His work focuses on pleasure, prohibition and dodgy statistics. He has authored a number of papers, including "Sock Puppets", "Euro Puppets", "The Proof of the Pudding", "The Crack Cocaine of Gambling" and "Free Market Solutions in Health".