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23 May 2022

Communities, places and inequality: a reflection

This article reflects on the connections between community and inequality, prompted by evidence gathered for the IFS Deaton Review of Inequalities, which reveals the persistence of severe and multidimensional inequality in the UK in the 21st century. The evidence exposes marked disparities of wealth and income, health and well-being, education and attainment, and political participation, differentiated by class, gender, age, race and region.

The Review may conclude that in the modern and prosperous UK, working-class men and women, some racialised minorities, the young, and places beyond the South-East have fallen behind, while the better-educated, wealthier and connected classes in the Home Counties and prosperous cities have pulled away. Its commissioned research is revealing that, in the course of time, swathes of people and places have become trapped in poverty and disadvantage, confronting multiple deprivations, inopportunity, and inadequate welfare protections. A portrait is emerging of an unequal and divided UK, the patterns mirrored in the demography and geography of response to Brexit, with ‘left-behind’ people and places expecting a better outcome from a post-austerity and post-EU political economy.

Amid the many questions of cause and response raised, one that is raised by the fine-grained evidence showing different groups of people and places faring better or worse against various measures of inequality concerns how far group characteristics and dynamics shape well-being outcomes as sources of vulnerability or resilience. Are community and inequality connected, for example, in the form of particular types of social ties or spatial affordances that are enabling or disabling? And, if so, what kind of community-based interventions might help to build social capability and resilience and with what degree of success in tackling embedded inequality and persistent disadvantage?

Cite this as:

Amin, A. (2022), ‘Communities, places and inequality: a reflection’, IFS Deaton Review of Inequalities,