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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
02 October 2000
The Greater London Assembly is considering the introduction of a congestion charge for central London. This paper looks at what the costs of such a charge might be for different income groups.
01 October 2000
This paper looks at the strategy of cutting Vehicle Excise Duty for people living in rural areas, and asks whether this would be an effective way of helping those most in need.
01 September 2000
Michaela Benzeval, Jayne Taylor and Ken Judge
The government's report, <i>Opportunity for All: Tackling Poverty and Social Exclusion</i> (Department of Social Security, 1999), identified poor health as one of the major problems associated with low income.
25 June 2000
This paper presents a life cycle model for the demand for health, and derives empirical specifications that distinguish between permanent and transitory wage responses.
05 April 2000
This paper exploits an unusual policy reform that had the effect of reducing the direct cost of schooling in Ireland in the late 1960s.
01 December 1999
Tom Clark and Jayne Taylor
Building on previous work, this paper documents the changes in income inequality that have occurred over the past 20 years, right up until the late 1990s.
01 June 1999
Tom Clark, Andrew W Dilnot, Alissa Goodman and Michal Myck
Significant change was made to both tax and benefits systems during the period 19972001.
26 October 1998
John Hall and Ian Preston
Many parts of the public sector coexist with private provision of similar services and in such circumstances we may expect to find interaction between public and private choices.
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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.