Household wealth data and public policy

19 April 2016

An event funded by the Nuffield Foundation today shed light on how wealth is concentrated among a small number of households, and is much more concentrated than incomes.

A special edition of Fiscal Studies launched at the event revealed that younger generations are on course to have less wealth at each point in life than earlier generations and inheritances do little to even out wealth holdings. It also draws attention to the relative lack of data on wealth holdings, especially among the very wealthiest. Wealth is a key determinant of wellbeing. It matters to households whether they have enough savings to see themselves through retirement and it matters for how they would respond to economic shocks and to fiscal and monetary policy. So understanding the distribution of wealth matters.

Wealth and Assets Survey

The introduction of the Wealth and Assets Survey has enabled analysts to learn a lot about the wealth distribution in recent years, but the survey cannot tell us much about the top 1% who hold around 20% of household wealth. The IFS have expressed concern that HMRC have consulted on discontinuing their publication of statistics on top shares of wealth (derived from data on bequests). These statistics have for decades provided the only, albeit imperfect, window into the wealth of the very richest.

Funding available

Economic Advantage and Disadvantage is a priority funding area for the Nuffield Foundation, and we have a programme dedicated to it. We are looking to fund research and innovation projects on the distribution of all aspects of individual and household economic well-being, their causes and consequences. The next deadline for outline applications is 10 October, and full criteria are published in the apply for funding section of our website

IFS Observation

You can read the full Observation published by the IFS today on its website