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Changes in earnings inequality and mobility in Great Britain 1978/9-2005/6


  • Richard Dickens
  • Abigail McKnight


This paper examines changes in earnings inequality and mobility between 1978/9 and 2005/6 using a unique dataset that includes both those with secure patterns of employment and a wider group who experience periods without earnings. It finds significant increases in annual earnings inequality for both male and female employees. On most measures this is greater for men. When wider inequality is measured including periods of no earnings, inequality for men increases and for women it falls as employment among women increased. It finds little long-range mobility. There is some evidence of greater short-range upward mobility but also greater movement from the lowest earning decile since 1997/98. More sophisticated measures of mobility suggest falling mobility for men through the 1980s and 1990s but some greater mobility since 2002. For women there has been lower mobility and less variation over time. Increases in employment for women have led to more equalising mobility.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Dickens & Abigail McKnight, 2008. "Changes in earnings inequality and mobility in Great Britain 1978/9-2005/6," CASE Papers case132, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:sticas:case132

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Christian Schluter & Mark Trede, 2003. "Local versus Global Assessment of Mobility," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(4), pages 1313-1335, November.
    2. Dickens, Richard, 2000. "Caught in a Trap? Wage Mobility in Great Britain: 1975-1994," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 67(268), pages 477-497, November.
    3. Dickens, Richard, 2000. "The Evolution of Individual Male Earnings in Great Britain: 1975-95," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(460), pages 27-49, January.
    4. Shorrocks, Anthony, 1978. "Income inequality and income mobility," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 376-393, December.
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    More about this item


    earnings inequality; labour market mobility;

    JEL classification:

    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion


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