Income, wealth and housing
The differential in income between the top fifth and the bottom fifth of earners in Britain is still approximately £40,000.
During the conservative governments of 1979-1997, the gap between the rich and the poor widened significantly (New Earnings Survey 2008).
The Institute for Fiscal Studies (2007) argues that income inequality is now greater than at the end of the Second World War.
Issues of household income statistics
Operationalising income can differ from one survey to another.
Some social groups may be omitted from some records.
A sample may not be representative of all social groups.
Some self-employed people are not VAT registered and therefore do not appear in the HM Revenue and Customs records.
The Hills Report (2010) "An Anatomy of Inequality in the UK" establishes that 'who you are affects the resources and opportunities available to you'.
Key findings were:
- Household wealth of the top 10 per cent is over 100 times higher than that of the bottom 10 per cent.
- Social class affects a child's readiness to go to school and a lower social class background can 'drag them back' throughout their school career and into adulthood.
- Economic advantages and disadvantages are reproduced and reinforced from one generation to the next.
Child Poverty Action Group has highlighted the effects of poor housing on people's life chances.
Damp, overcrowded and inadequately heated accomodation leadsto inequalities such as:
- physical and mental health problems
- educational underachievement
- reduced life expectancy
- social exclusion (for example, children being unable to invite friends to their house).
Working-class children so less well than their middle-class peers at every level and the gap in achievement levels is increasing.
Archer et al found that many working class children so not aspire to go to university.
Approximately seven per cent of children go to private schools, 45 per cent of whom go to Oxbridge.
Feinstein (2003) argues that by the age of three, working-class children are behing their middle-class peers by 22-42 months.
In 1980 the Black Report concluded there was a strong correlation between health and class.
Bottero (2005): rates of morbidity and mortality are not randomly distributed across the UK, they are higher for the working-class.
Infant mortality is 50 per cent worse in the North compared to the South.
Life expectancy for men is 78 in middle-class areas and 76 in working-class areas. The gap between women in working-class and middle-class areas is three years.