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Trends in poverty and inequality

Inequality has slightly increased but poverty seems to have sustainably declined

By Donald Hirsch   May 2004

Are income inequality and poverty in Britain rising or falling? The answers today are less clear-cut than in the past. Until the mid-1970s, incomes were very gradually becoming more equal, a trend some economic historians trace back several centuries. In the Thatcher decade, the trend was reversed, making incomes less equal than at any time since the second world war. In the 1990s, the trend flattened. Under New Labour, there has been a small increase in inequality but the first sustained decline in poverty for a generation.

Long-term trends in some of the forces that determine income distribution are now…

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