We are used to our incomes rising over time. Since 1961, median (middle) household income before housing costs in the UK has increased by 1.6% per year on average. So over a typical three year period real incomes would rise by about 5%. However, our best estimate is that in the three years from 2008 to 2011 real household incomes will in fact have fallen by 1.6% - the biggest three year drop in real living standards since 1980-83. So households are about 6% worse off than they might have expected had incomes risen in the normal way.