It’s fairer up North but inequality is rising across the board

New research by ippr north shows that the gap between the rich and poor is narrower in the North than in the UK on average, but the gap is growing across the board.

Jenni Viitanen is a research fellow at ippr north

New research by ippr north shows that the gap between the rich and poor is narrower in the North than in the UK on average, but the gap is growing across the board. Focusing on a period of sustained economic growth prior to the recession in 2008, the headline findings from the report are summarised as follows:

Household income

The distribution of household income by top and bottom 20 per cent of households in Figure 1 shows how London and the South East, also home to the strongest regional GVA growth (see Figure 2), are the most unequal. The green box indicates regional median income.

We can also observe from Figure 1 that the variation in the low-end income is minor across the regions and largely unaffected by the wide range of earning potential in the top 20%.

Figure 1: Distribution of household income (£ per week) per region, three year average 2006-2009


Figure 2: GVA per capita 1995-2008

GVA-per-capita-1995-2008
Pay inequality

Figure 3 depicts how the top 20% of wage earners have increased their earnings by double the rate compared to the bottom 20% during the monitoring period 1998-2006, but that the Northern regions still compare favourably to the UK average.

Figure 3: Percentage change in earnings, 1998–2006

Percentage-change-in-earnings-1998–2006

The ‘average’ gap in the UK is inflated by the particularly stark differences in London and the South East, as the regional breakdown shows in Table 1, also confirming that Yorkshire and Humber and the North East are the most equal English regions in terms of pay.

Table 1:


Pay inequality, £ per week, based on full-time male wages in 2006

Region

Top 20 per cent

Bottom 20 per cent

Gap
London 1,129 433 686
South East 876 368 508
East 799 349 450
North West 753 326 427
West Midlands 733 330 430
South West 739 336 403
East Midlands 733 332 402
North East 710 318 392
Yorkshire and Humber 718 328 390

Income polarisation in the Northern city-regions

The research also measured the extent to which the level of household income varies at the ward level within the Northern city-regions. The results are shown as Standard Deviation from the city-region mean.

Figure 5: Income polarisation in the Northern city-regions (+/- £ per week)

Income-polarisation-in-the-Northern-city-regions
Potential implications from increasing inequality

The findings suggest that inequality is potentially damaging for all members of society. Analysis carried out indicates that more unequal cities appear to have less community cohesion and a weaker sense of belonging. In other words, the social fabric of communities appears to be more fragile in areas where the standard deviation of household income is higher, as shown in the scatterplots (Figures 6 and 7):

Cohesion-and-Belonging
These findings highlight the policy challenges facing the government when planning a return to future economic growth. Traditional measures of economic performance do not take account of how the proceeds of growth are being shared and whether inequality is rising.

• The full research report can be accessed here.

14 Responses to “It’s fairer up North but inequality is rising across the board”

  1. Sky Pendle

    RT @leftfootfwd: It’s fairer up North but inequality is rising across the board: //bit.ly/g0Kh5t writes @JenniViitanen

  2. hjlownsbrough

    Really interesting piece by @JenniViitanen about lower levels of inequality in the north: //bit.ly/g0Kh5t (via @leftfootfwd )

  3. politicsinbrum

    RT @leftfootfwd: It’s fairer up North but inequality is rising across the board: //bit.ly/g0Kh5t writes @JenniViitanen

  4. sean gittins

    RT @leftfootfwd: It’s fairer up North but inequality is rising across the board: //bit.ly/g0Kh5t writes @JenniViitanen

  5. Nicola Smith

    RT @leftfootfwd: It’s fairer up North but inequality is rising across the board: //bit.ly/g0Kh5t writes @JenniViitanen

  6. nicola headlam

    RT @leftfootfwd: It’s fairer up North but inequality is rising across the board: //bit.ly/g0Kh5t writes @JenniViitanen

  7. uniteyou

    RT @leftfootfwd: It’s fairer up North but inequality is rising across the board: //bit.ly/g0Kh5t writes @JenniViitanen

  8. ippr north

    RT @leftfootfwd: It’s fairer up North but inequality is rising across the board //bit.ly/gGGOYW

  9. Jenni Viitanen

    RT @ipprnorth: RT @leftfootfwd: It’s fairer up North but inequality is rising across the board //bit.ly/gGGOYW

  10. Rick Muir

    RT @ipprnorth: RT @leftfootfwd: It’s fairer up North but inequality is rising across the board //bit.ly/gGGOYW

  11. Anon E Mouse

    If this research doesn’t include the “London Weighting” aspects of peoples wages then it is a completely useless report…

  12. Up Income

    It's fairer up North but inequality is rising across the board …: New research by ippr north shows that the ga… //bit.ly/idw81s

  13. Daniel Pitt

    Fairer up North but inequality rising across the board //bit.ly/g0Kh5t #ConDemNation

  14. Look Left – Tripoli tyrant hangs on - but for how long? | Left Foot Forward

    […] can be downloaded here, and you can read Left Foot Forward’s summary of the main findings here; ippr researcher Jenni Viitanen wrote of the […]

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