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Inequality, poverty and well-being
The distribution of income, consumption and wealth continues to be a central area of IFS research. Amongst the many aspects of our work in this area, we seek to chart, explain, and understand changes in inequality in wages, earnings, incomes and consumption, in the UK and other countries; we also seek to examine the effectiveness of a wide range of policies aimed at reducing poverty - including taxes and benefits, and other types of policy interventions - both at home and abroad.

Our research is also concerned with the welfare implications of changes both to inequality and poverty. These depend on how far they are caused by permanent changes in the relative standings of individuals in the income distribution (e.g. a change in the return to certain skills caused by technical progress) or by changes in the frequency of short-lived events (e.g. temporary layoffs), as well as the availability to individuals of specific insurance and other mechanisms to mitigate unexpected events.

For useful facts and figures, visit our Incomes in the UK section, where you will also find out interactive model, Where do you fit in?, which uses the latest data to plot your position in the income distribution.

See all current research projects for this subject


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Year: 503 publications
21 March 2013
Presentation given at the IFS post budget briefing, 21 March, 2013.
19 March 2013
Total losses are larger than they were in the 1980s, but they are more evenly spread says Paul Johnson in The Scotsman.
06 February 2013
As Chancellor George Osborne prepares for his keynote statement on fiscal policy and the economy the IFS Green Budget assesses some of the issues he will have to deal with.
05 February 2013
In October last year, the government announced a significant change to its plan to localise Council Tax Benefit starting in April 2013. Why was such a significant change announced to a policy two years after it was first announced and less than six months before councils will have to implement it?
17 December 2012
Slides and Audio from the presentation given at the IFS Public Economics Lecture series, December 2012
16 October 2012
This briefing note summarises a project that took a life-cycle perspective to understand how taxes and benefits affect incentives to work and earn more, and the way in which they redistribute income.
15 October 2012
This report is the fifth wave of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, a survey of people of 50 and over in England.
19 September 2012
Britta Augsburg, Ralph De Haas, Heike Harmgart and Costas Meghir
We use an RCT to analyze the impact of microcredit on poverty reduction, child and teenage labour supply, and education in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
14 September 2012
Britta Augsburg, Ralph De Haas, Heike Harmgart and Costas Meghir
This working paper uses a randomised controlled trial (RCT) to analyse the impact of microcredit on poverty reduction in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
13 September 2012
This presentation was delivered at the Queen's International Institute on Social Policy, Kingston, Ontario.
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Browse publications & research

Impact on Society
Extensive research on inequality allowed us to develop an online model where users can plot their position in the income distribution.
An IFS economist advised a “Citizens Jury” on the welfare system, including basic facts and important issues about its purpose and structure.
IFS researchers played an important role in the analysis underlying the findings of the National Equality Panel set up by the Labour Government.
IFS analysis forms an important input into the public debate about child and pensioner poverty and what policies are best suited to tackle these.
IFS evaluated the Pathways to Work programme. This work proved key to the policy debate about how to get disability benefit claimants in work.
IFS researchers develop a model of the Mexican tax system that will be used by the Mexican Government analysts.
The IFS has made valuable contributions to the debate on VAT and its impact on the poor.
IFS develops data on food prices and nutrition to build capacity for policy-relevant social science research.
Research told policymakers that, despite greater expenditure on health care, Americans are less healthy than their English counterparts.
IFS researchers have monitored the extent to which some households experience higher rates of inflation than others.
IFS researchers and the World Bank plan to develop capacity and tools in developing countries for the comprehensive analysis of tax reforms
In a tough economic climate IFS looks at how households are able to cope.
IFS researchers have investigated whether it is possible to measure the distributional impact of changes to spending on public services.
The IFS played a key role in the debate about who the tax and benefit changes in recent ‘Emergency Budget’ hit hardest.
IFS researchers have investigated the relative merits of government policies designed to protect elderly households from the coldest winters.