Living on Different Incomes in London: a pilot study

There is widespread social and political concern about economic inequality in the UK, but relatively little research examining what people think about high incomes and wealth. This report is drawn from an innovative study aiming to find out whether there was public consensus on a point at which high income and/or wealth becomes excessive. The research was conducted in London, where economic inequality is particularly pronounced and plainly visible.

Using a variation on the Minimum Income Standard (MIS) methodology developed by CRSP at Loughborough University this project brought together groups of higher, lower and mixed income citizens to discuss different increasingly high levels of living standards above the minimum (described by MIS research). The discussion groups were able to identify and agree on ‘consumption bundles’ of assets, goods, activities and services that they associated with living at progressively higher living standards. However, having considered the benefits and disadvantages of some individuals having a very high level of wealth and assets, they were unable to agree that there was a point beyond which financial resources (whether income, wealth or both) could be considered excessive. The project was a collaboration between researchers at Loughborough and Birmingham Universities and the London School of Economics and was funded by Trust for London.

Davis, A., Hecht, K., Burchardt, T., Gough, I., Hirsch, D., Rowlingson, K. and Summers, K. (2020) Living on Different Incomes in London: Can public consensus identify a 'riches line'? London: Trust for London.