Public attitudes to economic inequality

Economic inequality is a long standing feature of the socio-economic structure of the UK. Income inequality currently stands at historically high levels, and asset inequality has increased since the 1990s, with the top 1 % now owning nearly a quarter of all marketable assets. However, relatively little is known about public attitudes on this issue. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has published a new study with the key findings online which examines public attitudes to economic inequality, and related issues of poverty and redistribution. The study concludes that over the last 20 years, a large majority of people (73 % in 2004) have considered the gap between high and low incomes too large. People’s beliefs about the roles of luck and effort in determining individual success can affect their attitudes to inequality, poverty and redistribution. In this year’s Voluntary Sector Strategic Analysis, we discussed the implications of recent British Social Attitudes Survey data on public attitudes to the Welfare State for the VCS. If the Welfare State is increasingly seen as a ‘club’ where the right to resources and support has to be earned, is this likely to spread to people’s attitudes towards the VCS? There are several drivers on attitudes to poverty, inequality and the welfare state on this website which will be fully completed soon.

Last updated at 13:20 Thu 27/Jan/11.
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