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Home Research areas Inequality, poverty and living standards Effects of policy on inequality, poverty and living standards

Effects of policy on inequality, poverty and living standards

Government policy can have pronounced effects on the distribution of resources held, and living standards experienced, by the population. Since our foundation, researchers at IFS have sought to analyse and inform the public about these effects. Each year, in the days following the Budget, Autumn or Spring Statements, we publish an assessment of the distributional impact policy changes announced will have. We also carry out detailed analysis of measures that affect poor and low-paid families (like Universal Credit, the most radical overhaul of the working age benefits system for decades); provide the public with an overview of the government’s record and parties’ proposals at election time; and assess the impact of policy changes on inequality, poverty and living standards over the longer-run. We also have undertaken comparative work showing how important the tax and welfare system has been in preventing a rise in income inequality in the UK since the mid 1990s, and how that is different to the trends that have occurred in the United States.

Selected highlights

IFS Working Paper W10/24
In this paper we look at how the tax and benefit system redistributed income and affected incentives to work in 2009-10, and at the effect of tax and benefit reforms between 1978-79 and 2009-10 on the level of inequality and work incentives.
Journal article
We document the evolution of average incomes, poverty and inequality over the period of Labour government from 1997 to 2010, comparing these trends with those seen over other periods in recent history.


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