rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
Last week, Mark Pack posted an interesting graph showing the percentage of the UK's wealth going to the top 1% over the last century. It shows a clear upturn in that share from 1979, but nothing in 1997. Unfortunately it stops in 2000, and I'd really like to see what if any difference was made when Labour stopped sticking to Conservative spending plans after 2001.

Also in that post, Mark reminded me of research he discussed earlier in the year indicating that the richer you are, the less rich you estimate yourself to be. I remember Terry Pratchett talking about this once, about how the gradient of richness went up so steeply that even as a multimillionaire, there were people who made you feel poor. It was too easy to look up the slope at the person above, than remind oneself of all the people below.

"Most people would describe a dollar millionaire as rich, yet many millionaires would disagree. They do not compare themselves with teachers or shop assistants but with the other parents at their children’s private schools." - from an Economist special report on the global super-rich.

The IFS has produced a handy tool: Where do you fit in? which allows those in Great Britain to find out how relatively rich or poor they are compared to the rest of the country.

When I took this in 2009, I would have put our household (me, Tony & Charles) at about 70% - in fact we were "in the 9th decile", thus rather proving Mark's point. I have been trying hard to change my thinking to accommodate this since then.

I retook the IFS test this year after being reminded by Mark Pack's article. It's been updated with more recent figures, and we are now in the 10th decile, and richer than 96% of the population. We might not feel 'rich' but that has a lot to do with looking up the slope at those richer than us (and no doubt also a lot to do with choosing to buy an oversized house in a housing boom in an expensive part of the country.)

There is a big chunk of me that is squirming about 'boasting' about being rich here. I'm deeply uncomfortable 'flashing my cash'. But I think rich people not realising how exceptional they are is pernicious, especially when it comes to their reactions to suggested changes in tax and benefits.

Date: 2011-12-07 20:23 (UTC)
From: [personal profile] techiebabe
I'm always very aware, when I spend £100+ on a weekly shop for two people, that we are lucky. I remember how it was to live on benefits and to try to rustle up a few pence so I could buy bread for toasting, and beans. I'm glad in a way that I have those memories of living hand to mouth because although it was damn hard at the time, and I spent ages lying in bed terrified of being evicted, it makes me realise how very lucky we are right now that if we really want something we can pretty much just buy it.

But I don't feel "rich" at any time.

Date: 2011-12-07 20:50 (UTC)
From: [personal profile] techiebabe
At one point my dad became bankrupt and our family home was repossessed. We then lived very frugally, and it was a sudden shock to the system. I won't say I'm glad of the experience because it was horrid, but it stops me being blasé and means I do appreciate what we have. I still happily spend it though. I feel "comfortable" not "rich".

When comparing percentiles I think it makes a difference that we live in London, because money goes further in different parts of the country.

Date: 2011-12-07 20:26 (UTC)
From: [personal profile] techiebabe
Just done the test. 10th decile for me too, and richer than 96% for us too. "Your income is so high that you lie beyond the far right hand side of the chart."

However, it doesn't feel like that. If Mike lost his job we'd be stuffed as I can't work at the moment. So although we do quite well because of Mike's job, it always feels fragile and vulnerable to me, like it could be pulled out from under us any time.

Date: 2011-12-07 20:30 (UTC)
ailbhe: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ailbhe
I have the memory-of-poverty vulnerability, in spite of being quite filthy rich at the moment. I don't think it goes away however rich one is, though if I ever live in a house with the mortgage fully paid off, I might change my mind. Feeling *financially secure* is only slightly related to being rich, for me.

Date: 2011-12-07 20:31 (UTC)
ailbhe: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ailbhe
Hah, and I did it - we're over 53% only, and I feel filthy rich.

Date: 2011-12-07 21:04 (UTC)
kalypso: (Numbers)
From: [personal profile] kalypso
I always think of myself as pretty well off - they've put me just below you, as richer than 95% of the population, but that's because they didn't ask the big question - "Are you still paying off a mortgage?"

But I'm sure that's right about the super-rich - they're always thinking about how much more they could earn, whereas I'm thinking "This is a pretty good standard of living, now I just have to try to keep it going beyond retirement."

Date: 2011-12-08 15:16 (UTC)
kalypso: (Numbers)
From: [personal profile] kalypso
Of course - and at the other end there are people so rich they never need a mortgage in the first place, who probably constitute the 1%. But although I didn't expect the survey to cover every possible contingency, I was surprised it was quite so simple, and didn't ask questions like "have you dependents?" and outgoings other than council tax. Leaving those out meant that it underestimated my level of financial comfort. I know that I'm very, very privileged (though the super-rich would no doubt think I'm poor).

Even more detailed surveys tend to miss something not-common-but-significant-to-me, eg one I did on my carbon footprint gave me a very favourable score because I don't have a car or take many foreign holidays - but the only question it asked about my house was about the insulation, and not whether it was a family house occupied by a single human, which is my primary ecological crime.

Date: 2013-01-26 14:21 (UTC)
ext_57867: (Default)
From: [identity profile] mair-aw.livejournal.com
most surveys - this one included - don't seem to account very well for people who live as lodgers. How many people are in my household - do I count the other people in the house or not?

Date: 2011-12-07 22:29 (UTC)
From: [personal profile] lnr
I guessed around 8th decile - and we apparently come out right on 80%, though I didn't use exact income figures. I definitely think of us as very comfortably well off, given we're on one good salary and one ok one, with no dependants.

I certainly think I personally could afford to pay more tax.

Date: 2011-12-07 22:33 (UTC)
sir_guinglain: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sir_guinglain
Fascinating. 4th decile here, though a few years ago I would have been a bit further up the scale.

Date: 2011-12-07 23:56 (UTC)
ailbhe: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ailbhe
Actually, I just realised that my feeling pretty rich while at "better off than 53-55% of the population" is *exactly what you're talking about.* Silly me.

Date: 2011-12-08 13:06 (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
We own a house and are paying off a mortgage, which makes me feel rich in itself. And we never, ever have to worry about food bills. And we are on one income with three children.

One of the biggest things that makes me feel rich is never having to set money aside for medical costs - I never need to find €50 for a GP appointment ever, and that cuts our incidentals down a lot.

Date: 2011-12-08 13:07 (UTC)
ailbhe: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ailbhe
That was me.

And another thing - I would have put us in the same bracket as you, not least because I have a vague impression that you work for a university and therefor MUST be worse off than private sector salaries, mitigated somewhat by there being two of you with salaries. Hm.
Edited Date: 2011-12-08 13:16 (UTC)

Date: 2011-12-08 13:36 (UTC)
ailbhe: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ailbhe
Gosh. You are MUCH richer than us, unless Rob gets massive bonuses.

Date: 2011-12-08 14:30 (UTC)
kotturinn: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kotturinn
We (rmc28 and fanf on 9, me on 8) are on higher scales on the spine than many of our contemporaries in IT in the University. For comparison, many (possibly most) of the people who were on the same scale as me pre the single spine, and who don't work for one of the 'big' institutions that fought tooth and nail for their [support] staff, are now on Grade 7, and anyone taking a new job on that grade is more likely to be appointed towards the bottom of that grade than the top.

What it means for me is that I have sufficient 'headroom' to offer financial help to members of my family who are not so fortunate.

Date: 2011-12-08 00:10 (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
79%, 8th decile for us. I'm v aware of our privilege and know how lucky we are.

At the risk of over-sharing, there was a time in my life (age about 9) when I know that my mother would go without meals so that me and my sister could eat and she would sneak charity shop clothes into C&A bags because I refused to wear second-hand. Later as a teen in the 80's I remember our households being one of the ones that caught it that particular recession.

Date: 2011-12-08 00:11 (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
That last comment was from Ingrid. x

Date: 2011-12-08 09:41 (UTC)
naath: (Default)
From: [personal profile] naath
According to that we are richer than 97% of everyone. Having no children helps.

I certainly don't feel poor, but I don't feel rich either. Probably because I don't own a house.

Date: 2011-12-08 09:42 (UTC)
From: [personal profile] stephdairy
I do think of myself as rich, though the feeling is much more associated with accumulated wealth than with income. 9th decile, anyway.

(S)

Date: 2011-12-08 11:31 (UTC)
nanila: me (Default)
From: [personal profile] nanila
10th decile for us. Not having children makes a big difference in one direction, but it seems like having a mortgage would a big difference in the other.

Still, there's no arguing that we have a pretty comfortable lifestyle compared to most of the rest of the country, let alone the world.

Date: 2011-12-10 00:45 (UTC)
From: [personal profile] feanelwa
Ooo tickyboxes...

I come out as 80%. I think I do feel rich but also still quite easily evictable. I went from the bottom 20% to the top 20%... hmm.

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rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
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