What Do People Know?

Public knowledge about the scale of economic inequality is limited:

Income and Pay Inequality

In general, people underestimate the amount people on high incomes are paid1. For instance, in 2010 just under 10% of people thought FTSE 100 Chief Executives were paid more than £4m, while more than 40% thought they were paid less than £1m.  In reality, the average remuneration awarded to CEOs across the FTSE 100 was £4.5m in 20102.

Around 6–10% of respondents answered ‘don’t know’ to a question about differences in pay at their own workplace3 in each year from 1983 to 1995.

Wealth Inequality

The public greatly underestimate the extent of UK wealth inequality. In 2013 they thought that the top 20% of the population owned 39% of wealth and the bottom 20% owned 10%. The actual distribution is far more unequal – the top 20% own 62% while the bottom 20% has less than 1%4.

[1] (Taylor-Gooby et al. 2003)

[2] (BSA 2010)

[3] (Spencer 1996)

[4] (Rowlingson and McKay 2013)