Journal Article

An assessment of Labour’s record on income inequality and poverty

Robert Joyce and Luke Sibieta

in Oxford Review of Economic Policy

Published on behalf of The Oxford Review of Economic Policy Ltd

Volume 29, issue 1, pages 178-202
Published in print January 2013 | ISSN: 0266-903X
Published online June 2013 | e-ISSN: 1460-2121 | DOI:
An assessment of Labour’s record on income inequality and poverty

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  • Welfare and Poverty
  • Microeconomics


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We document the evolution of average incomes, poverty and inequality over the period of Labour government from 1997 to 2010, comparing these trends with those seen over other periods in recent history. We also relate these changes to Labour’s stated distributional objectives, which we argue were clear in relation to the bottom of the income distribution (and absolutely explicit in relation to child poverty), but much less clear in relation to inequality more generally. It is thus perhaps no surprise that we observe substantial falls in child and pensioner poverty alongside increases in overall income inequality, with the latter largely driven by growth in top incomes. We also use micro-simulation techniques to demonstrate the crucial importance of direct tax and benefit reforms in driving the changes observed over this period.

Keywords: inequality; poverty; D31; I30; I32

Journal Article.  11204 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Welfare and Poverty ; Microeconomics

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