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Flat-lining or seething beneath the surface?: two decades of changing economic inequality in the UK

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  • Obolenskaya, Polina
  • Hills, John

Abstract

This paper analyses what happened to economic inequalities in the United Kingdom in the two decades from 1995-96. In aggregate, inequality changes were unremarkable, especially by comparison with sharp increases in the 1980s. However, over the first decade economic outcomes improved across population groups, while over the second near-stagnation accompanied continuing high inequality. We show that the apparent stability of inequality in this period masked the way in which the nature and depth of economic inequalities changed after the economic crisis, leading to substantial differences between and within groups defined in different ways. Pervasively, younger adults lost out in the second decade compared to older ones. When population groups are defined in other ways (such as region, housing tenure or ethnicity) patterns are more complex, but with the worst-off in particular groups often being ‘left behind’. more complex, but with the worst-off in particular groups often being ‘left behind’.

Suggested Citation

  • Obolenskaya, Polina & Hills, John, 2019. "Flat-lining or seething beneath the surface?: two decades of changing economic inequality in the UK," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 101128, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:101128
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/101128/
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Thomas F. Crossley & Cormac O'Dea & Facundo Alvaredo & Anthony B. Atkinson & Salvatore Morelli, 2016. "The Challenge of Measuring UK Wealth Inequality in the 2000s," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 37, pages 13-33, March.
    2. 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.
    3. John Hills, 2010. "An Anatomy of Economic Inequality in the UK - Report of the National Equality Panel," CASE Reports casereport60, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
    4. Richard V Burkhauser & Nicolas Hérault & Stephen P Jenkins & Roger Wilkins, 2018. "Top incomes and inequality in the UK: reconciling estimates from household survey and tax return data," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(2), pages 301-326.
    5. Hills, John & Brewer, Mike & Jenkins, Stephen P & Lister, Ruth & Lupton, Ruth & Machin, Stephen & Mills, Colin & Modood, Tariq & Rees, Teresa & Riddell, Sheila, 2010. "An anatomy of economic inequality in the UK: report of the National Equality Panel," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 28344, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    inequality; wealth; income; wages; distribution;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D30 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - General
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution

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