Wealth in the UKDistribution, Accumulation, and Policy

Wealth in the UKDistribution, Accumulation, and Policy

John Hills, Francesca Bastagli, Frank Cowell, Howard Glennerster, Eleni Karagiannaki, and Abigail McKnight

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780199678303

Publisher: Oxford University Press


This book examines the key issues connected with the distribution of personal wealth in the UK and why wealth is now such an important factor in social differences and in public policy. Personal wealth in the UK totalled £5.5 trillion by 2010 (£9–10 trillion if occupational pension rights are included). Inheritance flows are equivalent to 4 per cent of national income each year. All households in the wealthiest tenth have more than 75 times the wealth of any of those in the bottom tenth. Absolute differences in wealth levels have increased substantially over the last 15 years, so wealth differences represent many more years of income than in the past, increasing their effects on people’s life chances. The book presents the most recent information on current wealth inequalities and a detailed discussion of trends in the distribution of wealth. It uses newly available data to compare wealth inequalities in the UK with the USA, Canada, and Sweden. It uses data which track the same people over time to examine trajectories in wealth accumulation over the decade to 2005 and inequalities in inheritances over the same period. It looks at how parental wealth and people’s asset-holdings early in adulthood affect outcomes later in their lives. The final part looks at how policies towards wealth-holding developed historically, and the contradictory ways in which a wide range of public policies relate to people’s wealth levels, including through taxation, means-testing, and the encouragement of saving, and sets out the key current issues for policy towards wealth and wealth inequalities.