Income gap between rich and poor almost doubled between 2000 and 2012

Men from poorer backgrounds are more likely to be single in middle age than before

A volunteer sorts through donations at a Food Bank in London
(Image credit: WILL OLIVER/AFP/Getty Images)

Income disparity between rich and poor families "almost doubled" between 2000 and 2012, according to The Independent.

A study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that men in middle age and from poorer backgrounds were significantly more likely to be single in 2012 than their predecessors, says the Financial Times.

As men from richer backgrounds are more likely to have a partner – "and their partners were more likely to be higher earners" – this divergence only exacerbates income inequality.

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The study is based on secondary analysis of data from two large surveys, the National Child Development Study that began in 1958 and the British Cohort Study that began in 1970, with figures adjusted for inflation over time.

The research found that men born in 1958 whose family income was in the poorest fifth of households when they were 16 earned an average of £720 a week by the age of 42 in 2000 (figures have been adjusted to reflect 2016 rates after inflation).

The same figure for someone from the richest fifth of households was £1,060 – a gap of 47 per cent.

A similar analysis of those born in 1970 found that by 2012 (and by the age of 42) men from the poorest and richest fifths earned £680 and £1,270 respectively after inflation – a gap of 88 per cent.

Once tax and in-work benefits are taken into account the gap fell to 63 per cent in 2012. This means government policies are reducing the income gap by 25 percentage points, a more progressive outcome than in 2000 when the gap was reduced by 17 percentage points.

The figures only relate to those in work and do not take account of people on benefits. This perhaps helps to explain the contrast with official figures for the population as a whole.

These show that income inequality has been broadly stable since the early 1990s – and that the gap between the very richest and poorest has in fact declined since the financial crisis because the earnings of the top one per cent have fallen the most.

"But the Government's planned cuts to tax credits over the next three years are projected to cause a sharp increase in inequality, even on this measure," says the Independent.

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