Interesting article about income inequality from John Burn-Murdoch over in the FT. From the article:
Starting at the top of the ladder, Britons enjoy very high living standards by virtually any benchmark. Last year the top-earning 3 per cent of UK households each took home about £84,000 after tax, equivalent to $125,000 after adjusting for price differences between countries. This puts Britain’s highest earners narrowly behind the wealthiest Germans and Norwegians and comfortably among the global elite.
So what happens when we move down the rungs? For Norway, it’s a consistently rosy picture. The top 10 per cent rank second for living standards among the top deciles in all countries; the median Norwegian household ranks second among all national averages, and all the way down at the other end, Norway’s poorest 5 per cent are the most prosperous bottom 5 per cent in the world. Norway is a good place to live, whether you are rich or poor.
Britain is a different story. While the top earners rank fifth, the average household ranks 12th and the poorest 5 per cent rank 15th. Far from simply losing touch with their western European peers, last year the lowest-earning bracket of British households had a standard of living that was 20 per cent weaker than their counterparts in Slovenia.
It’s a similar story in the middle. In 2007, the average UK household was 8 per cent worse off than its peers in north-western Europe, but the deficit has since ballooned to a record 20 per cent. On present trends, the average Slovenian household will be better off than its British counterpart by 2024, and the average Polish family will move ahead before the end of the decade. A country in desperate need of migrant labour may soon have to ask new arrivals to take a pay cut.
Across the Atlantic it’s the same story, only more so. The rich in the US are exceptionally rich — the top 10 per cent have the highest top-decile disposable incomes in the world, 50 per cent above their British counterparts. But the bottom decile struggle by with a standard of living that is worse than the poorest in 14 European countries including Slovenia.
Here is his chart on how the UK compares to Ireland (taken from this Tweet):
Interesting stuff. It follows on from the news this week of India overtaking the UK to become the world’s fifth biggest economy. The UK economy has been declining since Brexit, and the sunlit uplands seem further away than ever.
Now I will be the first to say that data is not everything. I think the middle class have a better quality of life in Belfast than in Dublin. Houses are cheaper, lower crime, good free schools, easier commutes etc – income is not everything.
But I do believe the UK is a very unequal society. Even Boris Johnson acknowledged this with his ‘Levelling Up’ strategy, but it seems to have fallen by the wayside.
Our new Prime Minister seems determined to reduce instead taxes and spending, which will only make inequality worse.
The Conservatives have turned the UK into a selfish, uncaring place where if you are a migrant or poor you can feck right off. This will further loosen the bonds of the UK and continue the reorientation of Northern Ireland towards more links with the South.
Mind you, I quite like the Scots and the Welsh. Can we consider a United Celtic Area of Ireland, Scotland and Wales?
I help to manage Slugger by taking care of the site as well as running our live events. My background is in business, marketing and IT. My politics tend towards middle-of-the-road pragmatism, I am not a member of any political party. Oddly for a member of the Slugger team, I am not that interested in daily politics, preferring to write about big ideas in society. When not stuck in front of a screen, I am a parkrun Run Director.