Inequality, poverty and living standards

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

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.

To get an idea of where you fit into the income distribution, try our Where do you fit in?, which will plot your position on the distributional graph. You can also download a spreadsheet containing some key figures about inequality.

Income growth in 2015–16 modest but widespread, leaving inequality and poverty roughly unchanged

| Briefing Note

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has today published the latest official statistics on household incomes, covering the financial year 2015–16. IFS researchers have summarised the headline trends observed in the new data and placed them in historical context in order to understand better changes in living standards in recent years.

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What's happening to living standards, inequality, and poverty in the UK?

| Video clip

This video summarises the findings from a new IFS report, Living Standards, Poverty and Inequality in the UK: 2016–17 to 2021–22, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

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Living standards, poverty and inequality in the UK: 2016–17 to 2021–22

| Report

We use data on household incomes from the Family Resources Survey, together with OBR macroeconomic forecasts and announced changes in tax and benefit policy, to project household incomes up to 2021–22.

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