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 20:23 (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 20:26 (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 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: 2011-12-07 22:29 (UTC)
lnr: (Default)
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 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)
feanelwa: (Default)
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 smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
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