The Desire for Income Equality Amongst the UK Adult Population

Cowling M, Harding R | Working Paper WP3 | Institute for Employment Studies | Jan 2007

Whilst there is a volume of literature mapping out the evolution, causes and implications of income inequality across countries, there is little in-depth evidence concerning the desire of populations for income equality.

This paper tackled this gap by presenting UK evidence from a large-scale adult population survey for 2003. The headline result was that 75 per cent of the UK adult population preferred a fairer income distribution.

Our econometric findings suggest that women are more likely to favour income equality than men and that better educated people are more tolerant of income inequality. Only the very rich favour income inequality. Geography is important, with the Welsh, Scots and Northern Irish all more likely to prefer a more equitable income distribution.