Inequality in the UK

By Dr John Sydenham.

"Women are paid much less than men for the same job, racial discrimination means that whites are taking all the best jobs, pensioners are rich",  these are all current media memes, especially in the BBC.  Are they true?

Let us begin with the "gender pay gap". The gender pay gap looks very complex and is mostly due to differences in behaviour between men and women, such as the desire to stay at home to raise children.

The Gender Pay Gap is no longer a simple issue of discrimination against women and the broadcasters and journalists who treat it as such have a political agenda that is unrelated to reality, such as polarising the sexes to create social tension.

Pensioner bashing has been a pastime of Postmarxist journalists in the past few years. The narrative is that "rich pensioners" are stealing all of the money from honest, hardworking youngsters. The current state pension in the UK is £137.60 a week (£7,155.20 a year). This is not enough to live on and means that a large number of pensioners receive state benefits.

Some pensioner income is gained from pension contributions to private pension schemes yet despite a working lifetime of paying for their retirement and receiving state pensions most pensioners are considerably poorer than most of the rest of society.

The graph below shows how pensioners, on average, get about half of their income from savings in private pensions.  Notice that the figures are average figures and so are distorted by the relatively few pensioners who had high incomes when they were working:

The "rich pensioner" narrative is due to journalists and politicians from rich families who are using it to polarise society by age.

"There is systemic racial discrimination in employment in the UK" is a claim often made in the media.  Superficially there is a difference in pay for different races:

Source: Report by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities

White people of Irish-British origin are paid over 30% more than white British people and mixed white/black Caribbean are paid 10% less.  However, when the fact that most non-white British people are from families that arrived in the past 30-40 years is taken into account it is not surprising that overall the median pay for this group is less than that of the white British because they have not received as many annual increments in pay.  A similar factor affects whole families where people who arrived here 30 years ago with no wealth at all are compared with families that are established with houses and contact networks.

If the established white upper middle class were removed from the figures the ordinary white British would be seen to be disadvantaged relative to most other groups.

As the Report by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities pointed out, different ethnic groups have different customs which account for some of the differences.  As an example, Pakistani and Bangladeshi groups prefer women to stay at home.  Allowing for this, recent arrival and other cultural differences what is striking about the differences in income by race is that they are so small.

Inequality in income in the UK has been falling in the past fifteen years, as measured by the Gini coefficient:

Source: Equality Trust

It is interesting that the demands for foreign labour to be imported from the EU to lower UK lorry driver wages have come from the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats and the Corporate Elite.  These are indeed strange times when the traditional party of the workers represents big business and the Conservatives represent the workers.

The big problem facing all political parties and Western countries is how to maintain real national wealth.  We now need two incomes to live in houses and run a television and car where this was financed by one working man fifty years ago.

House prices are particularly high, as can be seen from this graph of house prices expressed as multiples of the median wage and population in millions:

The house price rises are the result of a rapidly rising population due to migration.

The only solution to poverty in the UK is higher productivity and hence higher wages.  The use of cheap overseas labour undermines the prosperity of the entire nation and largely favours the Corporate Elite.

Why younger voters support the low wages, high rental prices, scarcity of housing and high property prices that results from the import of so many people into the UK is deeply puzzling.


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