Commentary – Income Inequality

The UK is not the only country in which income inequality has increased since the 1970s. In fact in most advanced countries for which we have data Gini coefficients indicate an increase in income inequality. For the countries shown below France is the only country for which the Gini coefficient is lower in the latest year than it was in 1984.

Another indicator of income inequality is the proportion of total income received by the top 1%. For countries for which we have (often incomplete) data this too shows rising inequality over the last 40 years. The share of the top 1%, after tending to fall from 1950 to 1980, then began to rise from 1980 to the present, giving a distinctive U-shape. This rise has been especially marked in the USA, Canada and the UK.


1. United Kingdom Gini coefficient and P90/P10 ratio for disposable income over the period 1977- to date published by the Office for National Statistics.

2. Selected Countries’ Gini coefficients from 1985 onwards. Source: The Chartbook of Economic Inequality

3. Selected Countries’ Share of the top 1% in gross income, 1950 to latest available. Source: World Inequality Database.

Data series
Annual Income inequality data
Variables: United Kingdom Annual (1977-) Disposable Income Gini coefficients and P90/P10 ratios; Selected countries’ Annual (1984 and latest available) Disposable Income Gini coefficients; Selected countries’ Annual (1950-) shares of top 1% in Gross Income.

Download data
All the economic inequality data series are available in Excel xlsx format:

Alternatively, the individual data series for income inequality are available in the following CSV (comma-separated format) files. These are plain text files that can be read by any spreadsheet programme:

UK: Annual Disposable Income Gini Coefficient and P90-P10 Ratio

Select Countries: Annual Disposable Income Gini

Select Countries: Share of top 1% income earners