about the gap

Why is inequality a problem?

The graph below shows how inequality has risen and is higher now than at any time in the last 30 years. Inequality in this country is one of the highest in the developed world, comparable only with countries like the USA and Portugal.

Inequality over time

The UK generates great wealth, but distributes it increasingly unequally. During our years of growing prosperity, the vast majority of our increased wealth went to those who were already rich – while the poor actually became poorer.  This is neither just nor sustainable.

Social problems and inequality

There comes a point at which the gap between rich and poor is so great that society starts to be run for the benefit of the rich and not for the common good. But even more crucially, it’s now become clear that the gap is bad for all of us. It hurts the wealthy as well as the poor. The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, a book that draws from hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific papers, has shown that all kinds of social problems are directly related to income inequality in developed nations.

In countries where the gap between rich and poor is at its widest, mental illness, obesity, imprisonment, mistrust, low social mobility and many other social problems are all worse than in countries with more equal societies. The graph above illustrates this.

This is true for everyone in society, not just the lowest earners. So a wealthy person in the unfair UK is more likely to suffer from health problems or be a victim of crime than they would be in a country which was equally affluent but had a smaller gap between rich and poor.

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