The changing distribution of wealth: trends, drivers & policy implications

This is an integrated study of the drivers of changing wealth distribution over the last two decades. The research team examined why wealth is such an important factor in social differences and public policy. They present the most recent evidence on wealth inequalities and a detailed discussion of trends in the distribution of wealth.

Researchers used longitudinal data to examine trajectories in wealth accumulation over the decade to 2005 and inequalities in inheritances over the same period. They compared wealth inequalities in the UK with those in the USA, Canada and Sweden.

The team also analysed a wide range of public policy options that relate to wealth distribution, including taxation, means-testing and saving. 


Both the inequality of the UK personal wealth distribution and the relative value of wealth have increased in the last two decades. At the same time, distinct policy changes have been made in education finance, pensions policy, personal care, social security entitlement, and housing that make people’s asset position more important, alongside new “asset-based welfare” policies. Heated debates centre on taxation of wealth and wealth transfers.

Project details



Professor John Hills, London School of Economics Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE)

Funding programme:

Open Door

Project amount and start date:


1 January 2008