Realsociology

For committed sociology, against neoliberalism

Whither my vain search for nice graphs on UK wealth statistics

Posted by Realsociology on January 24, 2012

… Hopefully in a response that’ll land me with a link to some nice.. err.. wealth distrbution graphs or pie charts…

I’ve spent the last 5 years or so looking for some nice up to date visual resources on wealth distribution in modern Britain, to update the pie chars I’ve gto from about 2006 - with really limited success – is it just me or is it just impossible to find easily accessible information on wealth stats in the UK… Or are pie charts on wealth distribution just not 2012? (or 2007-11 for that matter?)

You might think that searching around the government’s own Office for National Statistics, you’d get some info about wealth, but no, this gets  you nowhere – not if you want any data from the last few years at least.

Out of desperation you might try typing in any combination of ‘wealth distribution 2010 or 11 and UK or Britain’ to google but, with the exception of the excellent report mentioned below from 2010,  you simply get directed to old stats or stats on income distribution - so this is hopeless.  

So  unless I’m missing something – it’s actually very difficult to get reliable, up to date info on Wealth Stats – but here’s five, well four, sources of info.. no nice pie charts tho’!

Firstly there is this recent government report The most comprehensive recent source on wealth distribution seems to be this report from 2010 ‘An anatomy of economic inequality in the UK’ (summarised in this Guardian Article) which found that by retirement age the top 10%, led by higher professionals, had amassed wealth of £853 000,  while the bottom 10% of households, led by routine manual workers, had amassed less than £8,000. This means – and this is my headline figure – the richest 10% are 100 times richer than the bottom 10%

For an even starker comparison – the top 1% had, by the time they reached retirement age,  accrued an average wealth of £2.6 million, making them more than 300 times richer than the bottom 10%

The report measured wealth inequalities by looking at total assets accrued over the course of a lifetime – the findings were hardly surprising – the older you are the richer you are, the poorer your parents were, the less likely you were to accrue wealth and so on…. but it is informative to have such data to hand.

The body responsible for the above report is worth keeping an eye on – The Centre for Analaysis of Social Exclusion for updates on wealth issues.

Secondly, the most recent data from the Office for National Statistics (summarised in a blog which I’m not going to link to because it doesn’t link to anyone else) – reports that

The richest fifth have nearly two thirds of the wealth. More startling is that the poorer half of us speak for just 9p in every £1 of privately held wealth.
Private household net wealth in Great Britain totalled £9 trillion in 2006/08 and nearly 80% of this is accumulated in property and private pension entitlements. 

Median household net wealth was £204,500 in 2006/08. The least wealthy half of households accounted for only 9 per cent of wealth, while the wealthiest 20 per cent of households had 62 per cent of total wealth.

The least wealthy 10 per cent of households had negative total net wealth
Median net wealth – including pensions, houses and cars, but excluding mortgages and other debt – of a household in the South East is £287,900. In Scotland, it is £150,600.

Thirdly, you could use the recent Barclay’s wealth report I blogged about two blogs back

Fourthly, everyone of course knows about the rich list – I’m now reliant on other people’s summaries of this because of the Time’s paywall, and in any case, its international so the this list isn’t UK focussed and it doesn’t talk of ‘distribution’ focussing merely on the worst excesses.

Finally, For income inequalities – we can rely on the JRF’s yearly report on Poverty and Inequality - but this is based on income measurements rather than wealth.

You might like to think about why it’s so hard to find info on this stuff… Or if you know more about where to get this data from than I do, let me know!

2 Responses to “Whither my vain search for nice graphs on UK wealth statistics”

  1.   Rachel Sharp Says:

    Youa re are quite right. I did come across some official UK government statistics a few months ago up to about 2009 indicating the distribution of marketable wealth excluding dwellings which revealed a huge inequality. Unfortunately I cant find the reference and when I re-google the issue it brings up nouught. I am going to ask my MP to ask a written question of the office of national statistics and then to follow up with a question. When housing is removed, the figures are disgraceful

  2.   Ken Says:

    The following figures have just come out, which I’m using to base a graphic on showing share of wealth held by share of population. You can do this by all the deciles.
    Source: Wealth in Great Britain Wave 2 2008-10. Office for National Statistics 2012.

    Figures: (1st refers to population, 2nd to percentage of wealth owned by each group)
    Most wealthy 10%: 44%
    Most wealthy 20%: 62%
    Most wealthy 30%: 74%
    Most wealthy 50%: 90%
    Poorest 50%: 10%

Leave a Reply



XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>