“Growing inequality threatens democracy”

Inequalities in pay and opportunities in the UK are becoming so extreme they are threatening democracy, an Institute for Fiscal Studies study has said.

The think tank warns of runaway incomes for high earners but rises in “deaths of despair”, such as from addiction and suicide, among the poorest.
It warns of risks to “centre-ground” politics from stagnating pay and divides in health and education.

The report


says such widening gaps are “making a mockery of democracy”.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), one of the country’s leading research institutes, is launching what it says is the UK’s biggest analysis of inequality.

That will be chaired by Nobel Prize-winning economist Prof Sir Angus Deaton. …

It suggests pay inequality in the UK is high by international standards – with the share of household income going to the richest 1% having tripled in the past three decades.

The middle classes are also under pressure, particularly younger generations, with stagnant pay and unaffordable house prices.
The long-term decline in trade union membership is identified as another factor in wages not increasing. …

Richest increasing their earnings

As well as inequality in income, the think tank highlights divergence in health.

It says there is almost a 10-year gap in male life expectancy between the richest and poorest areas – and the IFS warns of “deaths of despair”, with a rise in early deaths from drug and alcohol abuse and suicide being linked to factors such as poverty, social isolation and mental health problems.
Patterns of relationship are also affected by inequality, the study suggests.

Over recent decades, wealthier people have become more likely to be living in a couple, either married or co-habiting, the IFS says. …”