Economic Inequalities in the United Kingdom Since 2008

Inequalities in the UK

ISBN: 978-1-78714-480-4, eISBN: 978-1-78714-479-8

Publication date: 8 November 2017


The financial crisis of 2008 and ensuing recession led to falls in earnings in the United Kingdom, not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and it was only in 2014 that overall household income returned to its pre-crisis levels. At the same time, according to one official measure, income inequality has actually fallen, although different data indicate no change. This situation follows from several factors, notably the continued growth in pensions, higher earnings of lower-income households as these have worked more since the recovery in 2013, and the continued stagnation of earnings in higher income households (even if very high incomes have continued to pull away from the rest of the population). Incomes of younger workers also remain below their pre-crisis peak. This chapter shows, however, that the picture of poverty and inequality in the United Kingdom is far more complex than suggested by the main measure of income inequality. To this end, it begins by reviewing the definitions of poverty and inequality, in order to provide a broader overview of these pressing but complex social problems. The chapter goes on to examine wealth inequalities, the impact of housing costs on inequality and poverty, and it concludes by presenting recent studies suggesting that Brexit may well lead to future rises in inequality, as higher inflation could well hit lower-income households most.



Sowels, N. (2017), "Economic Inequalities in the United Kingdom Since 2008", Fée, D. and Kober-Smith, A. (Ed.) Inequalities in the UK, Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 19-37.

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