Elsewhere, the top decile of earners is also pulling away from the rest. All in all, it's pretty damning stuff on how women and minorities have not really progressed despite all this talk you hear about Britain becoming a "multicultural" society. It sounds a heckuva lot like the United States--a more or less permanent underclass accompanied by limited prospects of upward mobility. Given that the premise of Anglo-Saxon economies was that stultified structures would be rid of as to not limit mobility, it's galling that gains are so hard to find. You can download a summary or the full report, although be prepared for some sobering reading. Meanwhile, here's the overview:
The National Equality Panel was set up to document the relationships between inequalities in people’s economic outcomes – such as earnings, incomes and wealth – and their characteristics and circumstances – such as gender, age or ethnicity. How does who you are affect the resources and opportunities available to you?
We map out in detail what these relationships look like in a way never done before. In this summary we bring together the key findings from our main report, and the challenges they create for the development of policy. There are several over-arching themes:
- Inequalities in earnings and incomes are high in Britain, both compared with other industrialised countries, and compared with thirty years ago. Over the most recent decade according to some measures, earnings inequality has narrowed a little and income inequality has stabilised, but the large inequality growth between the late 1970s and early 1990s has not been reversed.
- Some of the widest gaps in outcomes between social groups have narrowed in the last decade, particularly between the earnings of women and men, and in the educational qualifications of different ethnic groups.
- However, there remain deep-seated and systematic differences in economic outcomes between social groups across all of the dimensions we have examined – including between men and women, between different ethnic groups, between social class groups, between those living in disadvantaged and other areas, and between London and other parts of the country.
- Despite the elimination and even reversal of the differences in educational qualifications that often explain employment rates and relative pay, significant differences remain between men and women and between ethnic groups.
- Importantly, however, differences in outcomes between the more and less advantaged within each social group, however the population is classified, are usually only a little narrower than those across the population as a whole. They are much greater than differences between groups. Even if all differences between such groups were removed, overall economic inequalities would remain wide.
- The inequality growth of the last forty years is mostly attributable to growing gaps within social groups, however those groups are defined. The pattern of the last decade has been more mixed, with the effects of growing inequality within some groups offset by narrowing gaps between them.
- Many of the differences we examine cumulate across the life cycle, especially those related to people’s socio-economic background. We see this before children enter school, through the school years, through entry into the labour market, and on to retirement, wealth and resources for retirement, and mortality rates in later life. Economic advantage and disadvantage reinforce themselves across the life cycle, and often on to the next generation. By implication, policy interventions to counter this are needed at each life cycle stage.
- A fundamental aim of people with widely differing political perspectives is to achieve ‘equality of opportunity’, but doing so is very hard when there are such wide differences between the resources which people and their families have to help them fulfil their diverse potentials.
30/1 UPDATE: You may be wondering, "Wasn't Margaret Thatcher becoming prime minister a turning point for gender equality in Britain?" Well, I was visiting the London Times website when the reason for her rise (since corrected, mind you, and an interesting article too) was revealed:
31/1 UPdATE: Also see the blurb on the LSE website.