rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (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 20:26 (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.

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rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Rachel Coleman

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