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Living standards, poverty and inequality in the UK

How have household incomes evolved over your lifetime? What is the gap between rich and poor? How many people are there in poverty? Which groups are most likely to face poverty? These questions are fundamental to understanding the living standards of households across the UK, and have long been the subject of research at the IFS. This page brings together key resources that are useful to the public in understanding how and why living standards have changed since 1961.

How has the pandemic affected living standards? | 2021

Annual Reports

IFS researchers produce new research frequently to keep the analysis of the UK income distribution up to date. Our reports analyse these trends to gain a greater understanding of why incomes have been changing in recent years:

2021 2014 2007 1997 
2020 2013 2006  
2019 2012 2005  
2018 2011 2004  
2017 2010 2003  
2016 2009 2002  
2015 2008 2001  


This spreadsheet allows the public to see the how different measures of living standards, poverty and inequality have evolved over time. This combines data from Department for Work and Pension's Households Below Average Income series from 1994-95 with data produced by the IFS to measure the incomes and distribution of income in Britain since 1961.

Figures since 1961 are given for:

  • Household incomes
  • Income Inequality
  • Poverty
  • Child poverty
  • Pensioner poverty
  • Poverty for working-age parents
  • Poverty for working-age non-parents

Related outputs

The focus of this report is the distribution of household income in the UK. We assess the changes to average incomes, income inequality and poverty that occurred in the latest year of data (2014–15), and put these in historical context using comparable data spanning the last 50 years.
This report analyses government statistics about the distribution of income in the UK (Households Below Average Incomes or HBAI).
This report analyses government statistics about the distribution of income in the UK (Households Below Average Incomes or HBAI).
Briefing note
This briefing note updates previous IFS projections of child and working-age poverty in Northern Ireland and the UK as a whole from 2012-13 to 2017-18, and in 2020-21.
Briefing note
The latest IFS briefing note examines what has been happening to living standards and unpicks the main reasons for these trends.
This report compares and contrasts the economic circumstances of individuals born between the 1940s and the 1970s, currently aged between their mid-30s and mid-70s.
Today, the Oxford Review of Economic Policy publishes a special issue on Labour’s economic record when in government between 1997 and 2010. As part of this, IFS researchers assess Labour’s record on income inequality and poverty. Here, we summarise our findings and reflect on the main lessons ...