IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/bla/econom/v84y2017i334p157-179.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Two Decades of Income Inequality in Britain: The Role of Wages, Household Earnings and Redistribution

Author

Listed:
  • Chris Belfield
  • Richard Blundell
  • Jonathan Cribb
  • Andrew Hood
  • Robert Joyce

Abstract

We study earnings and income inequality in Britain over the past two decades, including the period of relatively “inclusive” growth from 1997-2004 and the Great Recession. We focus on the middle 90%, where trends have contrasted strongly with the “new inequality” at the very top. Household earnings inequality has risen, driven by male earnings – although a ‘catch-up’ of female earnings did hold down individual earnings inequality and reduce within-household inequality. Nevertheless, net household income inequality fell due to deliberate increases in redistribution, the tax and transfer system’s insurance role during the Great Recession, falling household worklessness, and rising pensioner incomes.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • Chris Belfield & Richard Blundell & Jonathan Cribb & Andrew Hood & Robert Joyce, 2017. "Two Decades of Income Inequality in Britain: The Role of Wages, Household Earnings and Redistribution," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 84(334), pages 157-179, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:econom:v:84:y:2017:i:334:p:157-179
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/ecca.12220
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jonathan Heathcote & Fabrizio Perri & Giovanni L. Violante, 2010. "Unequal We Stand: An Empirical Analysis of Economic Inequality in the United States: 1967-2006," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 13(1), pages 15-51, January.
    2. Machin, Stephen, 1996. "Wage Inequality in the UK," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(1), pages 47-64, Spring.
    3. Xavier Gabaix & Augustin Landier, 2008. "Why has CEO Pay Increased So Much?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(1), pages 49-100.
    4. Dolls, Mathias & Fuest, Clemens & Peichl, Andreas, 2012. "Automatic stabilizers and economic crisis: US vs. Europe," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(3), pages 279-294.
    5. Frank Cowell & Carlo Fiorio, 2011. "Inequality decompositions—a reconciliation," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 9(4), pages 509-528, December.
    6. Orazio Attanasio & Peter Levell & Hamish Low & Virginia Sánchez-Marcos, 2015. "Aggregating Elasticities: Intensive and Extensive Margins of Female Labour Supply," NBER Working Papers 21315, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. A. B. Atkinson, 2005. "Top incomes in the UK over the 20th century," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 168(2), pages 325-343.
    8. Lawrence F. Katz & Kevin M. Murphy, 1992. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963–1987: Supply and Demand Factors," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 35-78.
    9. Johnson, Paul & Webb, Steven, 1993. "Explaining the Growth in UK Income Inequality: 1979-1988," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(417), pages 429-435, March.
    10. Atkinson, A B, 1997. "Bringing Income Distribution in from the Cold," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(441), pages 297-321, March.
    11. Jenkins, Stephen P, 1995. "Accounting for Inequality Trends: Decomposition Analyses for the UK, 1971-86," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 62(245), pages 29-63, February.
    12. Anthony B. Atkinson & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "Top Incomes in the Long Run of History," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(1), pages 3-71, March.
    13. Tatomir, Srdan, 2015. "Self-employment: what can we learn from recent developments?," Bank of England Quarterly Bulletin, Bank of England, vol. 55(1), pages 56-66.
    14. Dew-Becker, Ian & Gordon, Robert J, 2005. "Where did the Productivity Growth Go? Inflation Dynamics and the Distribution of Income," CEPR Discussion Papers 5419, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    15. Mark Aguiar & Mark Bils, 2015. "Has Consumption Inequality Mirrored Income Inequality?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(9), pages 2725-2756, September.
    16. repec:iae:iaewps:wp2016n5 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Mark B. Stewart, 2012. "Wage inequality, minimum wage effects, and spillovers," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(4), pages 616-634, October.
    18. Steven N. Kaplan & Joshua Rauh, 2010. "Wall Street and Main Street: What Contributes to the Rise in the Highest Incomes?," NBER Chapters,in: Corporate Governance National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. John Hills, 2013. "Labour's Record on Cash Transfers, Poverty, Inequality and the Lifecycle 1997 - 2010," CASE - Social Policy in a Cold Climate Working Paper 05, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
    20. Machin, Stephen, 2001. " The Changing Nature of Labour Demand in the New Economy and Skill-Biased Technology Change," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 63(0), pages 753-776, Special I.
    21. Brewer, Mike & Wren-Lewis, Liam, 2012. "Accounting for changes in income inequality: decomposition analyses for Great Britain, 1968-2009," ISER Working Paper Series 2012-17, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    22. Levy, Frank & Murnane, Richard J, 1992. "U.S. Earnings Levels and Earnings Inequality: A Review of Recent Trends and Proposed Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1333-1381, September.
    23. Richard Blundell & Luigi Pistaferri & Itay Saporta-Eksten, 2016. "Consumption Inequality and Family Labor Supply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(2), pages 387-435, February.
    24. Joanne Lindley & Stephen Machin, 2013. "Wage inequality in the Labour years," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(1), pages 165-177, SPRING.
    25. Brian Bell & John Reenen, 2014. "Bankers and Their Bonuses," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 124(574), pages 1-21, February.
    26. Richard Blundell & Ben Etheridge, 2010. "Consumption, Income and Earnings Inequality in Britain," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 13(1), pages 76-102, January.
    27. Cutler, David M & Katz, Lawrence F, 1992. "Rising Inequality? Changes in the Distribution of Income and Consumption in the 1980's," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 546-551, May.
    28. Richard V. Burkhauser & Nicolas Hérault & Stephen P. Jenkins & Roger Wilkins, 2016. "What has Been Happening to UK Income Inequality Since the Mid-1990s? Answers from Reconciled and Combined Household Survey and Tax Return Data," NBER Working Papers 21991, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    29. John Hills, 2013. "Labour's Record on Cash Transfers, Poverty, Inequality and the Lifecycle 1997 - 2010," CASE Papers case175, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
    30. Jonathan D. Fisher & David S. Johnson & Timothy M. Smeeding, 2013. "Measuring the Trends in Inequality of Individuals and Families: Income and Consumption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 184-188, May.
    31. Stephen P Jenkins & Frank A Cowell, 1994. "Dwarfs and giants in the 1980s: trends in the UK income distribution," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 15(1), pages 99-118, February.
    32. Atkinson, A B, 1999. "The Distribution of Income in the UK and OECD Countries in the Twentieth Century," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(4), pages 56-75, Winter.
    33. Bruce D. Meyer & James X. Sullivan, 2013. "Consumption and Income Inequality and the Great Recession," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 178-183, May.
    34. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1998. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed the Labor Market?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1169-1213.
    35. Brian D. Bell & John Van Reenen, 2013. "Extreme Wage Inequality: Pay at the Very Top," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 153-157, May.
    36. Hills, John, 2013. "Labour's record on cash transfers, poverty, inequality and the lifecycle 1997 - 2010," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 58082, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    37. repec:cep:sticas:/175 is not listed on IDEAS
    38. Richard Blundell & Luigi Pistaferri & Ian Preston, 2008. "Consumption Inequality and Partial Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1887-1921, December.
    39. Cribb, Jonathan & Emmerson, Carl & Tetlow, Gemma, 2016. "Signals matter? Large retirement responses to limited financial incentives," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 203-212.
    40. Mookherjee, Dilip & Shorrocks, Anthony F, 1982. "A Decomposition Analysis of the Trend in UK Income Inequality," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(368), pages 886-902, December.
    41. Mike Brewer & Liam Wren-Lewis, 2016. "Accounting for Changes in Income Inequality: Decomposition Analyses for the UK, 1978–2008," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 78(3), pages 289-322, June.
    42. Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "The Economics of Superstars," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 845-858, December.
    43. Bound, John & Johnson, George, 1992. "Changes in the Structure of Wages in the 1980's: An Evaluation of Alternative Explanations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 371-392, June.
    44. Ian Dew-Becker & Robert J. Gordon, 2005. "Where Did Productivity Growth Go? Inflation Dynamics and the Distribution of Income," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 36(2), pages 67-150.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Schaefer, Daniel & Singleton, Carl, 2017. "Recent changes in British wage inequality: Evidence from firms and occupations," MPRA Paper 76744, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. SOLOGON Denisa & VAN KERM Philippe & LI Jinjing & O'DONOGHUE Cathal, 2018. "Accounting for Differences in Income Inequality across Countries: Ireland and the United Kingdom," LISER Working Paper Series 2018-01, LISER.
    3. Richard V. Burkhauser & Nicolas Hérault & Stephen P. Jenkins & Roger Wilkins, 2017. "Survey Under-Coverage of Top Incomes and Estimation of Inequality: What Is the Role of the UK’s SPI Adjustment?," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2017n16, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    4. Eleni Karagiannaki, 2017. "The empirical relationship between income poverty and income inequality in rich and middle income countries," CASE Papers /206, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
    5. Blundell, Richard & Joyce, Robert & Norris Keiller, Agnes & Ziliak, James P., 2018. "Income inequality and the labour market in Britain and the US," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 162(C), pages 48-62.
    6. Koen Caminada & Jinxian Wang & Kees Goudswaard & Chen Wang, 2017. "Income inequality and fiscal redistribution in 47 LIS-countries, 1967-2014," LIS Working papers 724, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    7. Christian Pierdzioch & Rangan Gupta & Hossein Hassani & Emmanuel Silva, 2018. "Forecasting Changes of Economic Inequality: A Boosting Approach," Working Papers 201868, University of Pretoria, Department of Economics.
    8. repec:eee:streco:v:45:y:2018:i:c:p:84-93 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bla:econom:v:84:y:2017:i:334:p:157-179. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley Content Delivery) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/lsepsuk.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.