There is a tendency to consider the USA as always an exception, something encouraged by themselves often. But when it comes to wealth inequality it is not at all unique.
Almost a quarter of all household wealth in the UK is held by the richest 1%.
Around 5% of the total wealth held by the very richest households has been missed by official measures, researchers at the Resolution Foundation thinktank found. The top 1% had almost £800bn more wealth than suggested by official statistics, meaning that inequality has been far higher than previously thought. Researchers said the extra billions was a conservative estimate and could well be more. Taking the newly discovered billions into account the share of total UK wealth held by the top 1%, increasing it by more than a quarter – from 18% to 23%.
Jack Leslie, an economist at the foundation, said: “The UK has undergone a wealth boom in recent decades, which has continued even while earnings and incomes have stagnated. But official data has struggled to capture these gains, and misses £800bn of assets held by the very wealthiest households in Britain.”
Wealth has been fuelled by rising asset prices since the financial crisis, such as soaring housing values, land or stocks – rather than through active saving. Between 76% and 93% of financial wealth gains since the crisis have come through the rising value of assets such as housing.