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Home Research areas Inequality, poverty and living standards Measuring inequality, poverty and living standards

Measuring inequality, poverty and living standards

IFS Researchers have been at the forefront of measuring changes in inequality, poverty and living standards for over 25 years. We undertake analysis to understand different measures of living standards, which can lead us to important insights into how the distribution of living standards is changing. In addition, we work with the Department for Work and Pensions to produce consistent measures of the distribution of household income using UK survey data. These data form a consistent series back to 1981 and are available as microdata or summary statistics. Our expertise in data on income and consumption facilitate international collaborations to understand changes in inequality and living standards across different developed countries.

In addition, our work as part of the IFS Deaton review will be focusing on how different types of inequalities relate to each other. It aims to document and understand inequalities in living standards, health, political participation and opportunity, not just between the rich and poor but by gender, ethnicity, geography and education too.

Selected highlights

This report examines changes in the distribution of household incomes in the UK, and the determinants and consequences of recent trends. This includes analysing not only changes in average living standards, but also inequality in household incomes and measures of income poverty and deprivation.
Journal article
We document that households in the UK with extremely low measured income tend to spend much more than those with merely moderately low income. This phenomenon is evident throughout three decades worth of microdata and across different employment states, levels of education and marital statuses.


Contact IFS on 020 7291 4800 or

Robert Joyce
Deputy Director
Jonathan Cribb
Associate Director
Tom Waters
Senior Research Economist