NOTEWORTHY FACTS ABOUT UK SOCIETY - the state we are in
UK Wealth distribution, 2006
The top 1% own 25% of national wealth
The top 10% own 52% of total wealth
The top 50% own 94% of total wealth
GINI Index : 0= perfect equality, 100 = perfect inequality (One person owns all the wealth)
In Europe, only Greece has more unequal income distribution than Britain. The US stands out as having the highest level of inequality in the developed world
Relative wealth and poverty
- Since 1970, area rates of poverty and wealth in Britain have changed significantly. Britain is moving back towards levels of inequality in wealth and poverty last seen more than 40 years ago.
- Over the last 15 years, more households have become poor, but fewer are very poor. Even though there was less extreme poverty, the overall number of 'breadline poor' households increased - households where people live below the standard poverty line. This number has consistently been above 17 per cent, peaking at 27 per cent in 2001.
- Already-wealthy areas have tended to become disproportionately wealthier. There is evidence of increasing polarisation, where rich and poor now live further apart. In areas of some cities over half of all households are now breadline poor.
- There has been slower change in wealth patterns overall. The national percentage of 'asset wealthy' households fell slightly in the early 1990s but rose dramatically between 1999 and 2003 - 23 per cent of households are now wealthy in terms of housing assets.
- The general pattern is of increases in social equality during the 1970s, followed by rising inequality in the 1980s and 1990s. Changes since 2000 are less clear.
- Urban clustering of poverty has increased, while wealthy households have concentrated in the outskirts and surrounds of major cities, especially those classified as 'exclusive wealthy', which have been steadily concentrating around London.
- Both poor and wealthy households have become more and more geographically segregated from the rest of society.
- 'Average' households (neither poor nor wealthy) have been diminishing in number and gradually disappearing from London and the south east.
Source: Joseph Rowntree Foundation
Poverty is defined as income of less than 60% of median household income. In 2006, this was £103 per week for a single person and £301 per week for two adults with two children.
- In the 8 years to 2006, over 33% of the population experienced poverty at least once
- In 2004/5, 3.4 million children are living in poor households - this has reduced from 4.1 million in 1998/9. Of these, 41% are in two parent households where at least one member works, and 34% in lone parent families without work.
Crime and imprisonment
Number of prisoners per 100 thousand population
|UK||Scandinavia (av.)||Germany||France||Ireland||US(all)||US (black)|
Number of prisoners per 100 thousand (2001) and incidence of crime
|England and Wales||Scotland||Denmark||Sweden||Finland|
|Robbery/assault (% of people who were victims, 2001)||5.2||-||4.2||2.3||1.2|
There appear to be no causal links between incidence of crime and imprisonment
Source: Home Office/Council of Europe 2003
Voting in last Parliamentary election, %
UK had the lowest voter turnout in Europe
Trust in democratic representatives %
Trust in other people generally - 10=very high, 0=very low
Upper secondary education attainment aged 25 to 64 %
27% of 19 year olds fail to reach the minimum stsandard of NVQ2
25% of 16 year olds are not in education or training programmes
Access to higher education: % from unskilled and professional households
Percentage of people with a degree by parental income, 1999
|Lowest 20%||Middle 60%||Highest 20%|
Education, skills, earnings and economic performance
From Britain's record on skills, Layard, McIntosh, & Vignoles
%adult population who are functionally illiterate and inumerate
% of 17-year-olds involved in any formal maths study
Productivity per hour
The UK lags behind Germany and France by about 20% and the US by about 40%. The researchers assess that this is a result of low capital investment and poor education and skills.
Hourly wages (£'s)
There have been considerable changes in the distribution of occupations in the economy between 1995 and 2005.
- The number of men employed in skilled trades and semi-skilled process and plant operations has dropped considerably
- The number of men employed in elementary occupations has increased considerably
- There has been considerable growth for men and women in sales and customer service occupations
- There has been a considerable increase for men and women in intermediate occupations such as section head and supervisor
- There has been a marked drop for women in secretarial and administrative work.
Whilst the numbers of men and women employed in professional, senior managerial and associate professional work has grown considerably, the opportunities for men in skilled and semi-skilled occupations have significantly decreased, to be replaced by work in 'customer services', and unskilled work in services such as hospitality, security and cleaning. For women, there has been a marked decrease in secretarial and administrative work and rapid increases in sales, customer and personal service work.
Trade Union Membership % working population
Immigration and emigration, 2005
Inflow to Britain - 590,000 people
Outflow - 350, 000
Human development Index
In the UN Human Development Index, which measures how countries convert their wealth into educational, health and life expectancy outcomes, the UK comes 18th, trailing behind the US, Japan and most of Europe.
Joseph Rowntree Foundation, EurLIFE, Eurostat, "Britain's record on skills", Layard, McIntosh and Vignobles, UN, EU, OECD.