Growing Unequal?

Interesting looking report from the OECD about inequality across 30 countries.  The press release is suitably gloomy:

Children and young adults are now 25% more likely to be poor than the population as a whole.  Single-parent households are three times as likely to be poor than the population average. And yet OECD countries spend 3 times more on family policies than they did 20 years ago.

But here’s the summary for what’s been happening in the UK, where there is some good news:

Since 2000, income inequality and poverty have fallen faster in the United Kingdom than in any other OECD country. However, the gap between the rich and poor is still greater in the UK than in three quarters of OECD countries.

If you look at the tables they provide you’ll see when most of the income gap openned up during the 1980s.  Also worth noting is that:

Income poverty – that is, a household with less than half the average (median) income for its country – fell from 10% to 8% between the mid-1990s and 2005. For the first time since the 1980s, the poverty level is well below the OECD average.

The number of children living poverty fell from 14% to 10% between the mid-1990s and 2005– the second largest fall (behind Italy) over this period. Even so, child poverty rates are still above the levels recorded in the mid-1980s (7-8%) and mid-1970s (5%).

That said the report also points out that what your/our parents earned is morelikely to determine what we earn than in some other OECD countries.

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About Andrew Brown

I live in Lewisham, South East London, and spent 9 years as a Labour councillor in the borough between 1997 and 2006.
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One Response to Growing Unequal?

  1. ross says:

    interesting that the OECD report shows a fall in inequality since 2000 yet the govt’s own figures show no change

    “The OECD report found inequality had fallen a little since 2000, while the government’s official figures show it to be static”

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d53e9ca2-9fd3-11dd-a3fa-000077b07658.html

    i guess because the UK was one of the first to embark on the free market project through thatcher and then blair, it got to the point of having higher inequality quicker than most of the peer countries in that report, so there is more scope for it to be reduced in relative terms without actually changing the absolute position that much, and given the stablisation of inequality in the UK (at high levels) is contrasted against countries that are/were still implementing thatcherite/blairite policies there’s good scope to spin how well britain is doing in reducing inequality

    As to whether inequality has dropped both the govt’s own figures and those published recently by the IFS seem to contradict that statement:-

    “the Gini Coefficient – a commonly used measure of income inequality – is unchanged since 2005-06. But it remains at a level higher than that which Labour inherited and equal to its highest level seen since the start of a consistent time series in 1961”

    http://www.ifs.org.uk/pr/hbai_pr1.pdf

    which would suggest inequality has increased since blair/brown picked up the mantle of thatcher

    ps do you think mandelson should have been on that boat?

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