Income of Scotland's top earners 'increasing faster' than other workers

Pensioner holding cash The report said overall household income inequality had not increased substantially since the mid-1990s

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Scotland's top earners have increased their income at a greater rate than the rest of the nation's workers in the past decade, according to a report.

It said those in the top 1% income bracket - some 25,000 people - could expect to earn 20 times more than someone in the bottom 1%.

But overall household income inequality has not increased substantially since the mid-1990s, it said.

The study was carried out by academics at Stirling University.

They said they had compiled the Inequality in Scotland report to create a much more comprehensive picture of trends in inequality in Scotland, and to inform the referendum debate, and policy making.

Leaving aside the extremes of the top 1%, the study found the impact of tax credits since the mid-1990s has meant inequality has barely increased in Scotland.

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Inequality in Scotland, like in many developed nations, is partly being driven by technology, by trade, and even by how we decide to form households”

End Quote Prof David Bell University of Stirling

That is after a sharp rise in inequality from the 1980s, linked to the decline of older industries and of the wage bargaining power of trade unions.

The economists showed Scotland is around the mid-point for inequality among developed nations, and that others - including the Nordic countries - have been becoming more unequal during this century.

The study showed government policy can reduce inequality, but there are pressures on the jobs market from trade and technology.

The replacement of some jobs by computers has weakened the mid-range of incomes, meaning more people are either in the top earning range or the bottom earning range.

The study also demonstrated that the move to part time work has been one of the main drivers towards uneven earnings, particularly among men. But the economists pointed out that some people want to work part-time, so it is not clear this is unwelcome.

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By international standards, it seems Scotland isn't particularly unfair”

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It also underlined that the gap between high and low earners in Britain is skewed by the variations in the incomes of Londoners.

Scottish levels of inequality are similar to those for the rest of Britain excluding London.

The capital is roughly twice as unequal as the rest of the UK. The highest earning 1% of people in London earn 43 times more than those with the lowest 1%.

David Bell, professor of economics at Stirling University, said: "Though an independent Scotland would have more powers to address inequality, its room for manoeuvre would be constrained by these wider forces.

"Inequality in Scotland, like in many developed nations, is partly being driven by technology, by trade, and even by how we decide to form households.

"So, there are likely to be limits to the extent that a small open economy can reduce inequality. Scottish independence would provide opportunities, but the constraints that already exist would not go away."

The study was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    'Leaving aside the extremes of the top 1%'

    What was the point in doing the study then as it's meant to show the inequalities between high and low wage earners ?

    You have to laugh at these numpties - both the University and Douglas Fraser for this. And they think they're delivering quality journalism.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    The sooner we get rid of London the better. London is a nation of its own and it sucks the very life out of the rest of the country............. and I include the rest of England when I say that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    I don't know whether an independent Scotland will change this or not (I hope so) but it has to be better than having billions stolen from us every year to line the pockets of the Londonites.

    We are a better people, a better country and it's about time we acknowledged that and gave ourselves permission for a functioning, representative democracy.

    It'll be the first time in over 300 years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    Not sure that inequality of pay for the top 1% over the 99% is any worse now than it has ever been. The people with the money have always made the rules (had influence) to make sure the money flows in their direction

    An independent Scotland will just cut out the 'southern' element, but our own top 1% will still continue to grow richer. Those at the bottom will sadly see no difference

  • Comment number 40.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    In other equally surprising news, a report confirms that some men like drinking beer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    The fat cats need to be careful as the majority of average or low earners on who they depend are getting sick of thier self indulgence. Likewise the buckfast brigade and their ilk should have the opportunity to do a reasonable job or be forced to work full-time for the community to get their benefits

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    You have to wonder why BBC Scotland decided to open this story up to comments when there are so many more important stories which could be discussed but are never allowed to be. It just confirms the total left wing bias of the BBC. The top 1% may not be worth their money, but the bottom 1% are skil-less louts whose only interest in life is a bottle of Buckfast.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    Bit Jeremy Kyle isn't it? Only allowing a story like this open for comments.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    "An independent and probably socialist Scottish government would equalise everything"

    Yes, and they would find a cure for cancer and probably make us all immortal. Are you really that stupid? Staggering (and worrying) that there are people like you out there. I really hope you are too young to vote next year.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    This article just talks about earnings. The inequality is multiplied even more if you look at pensions and benefits too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    5. Pabs7
    As usual the report fails to address the inequalities in health, life expectancy, and education. Someone in east Lothian who is in their 70’s has the same health level as someone in their 50’s in west Lothian etc.

    An independent and probably socialist Scottish government would equalise everything so that everyone in their 50s would have current West Lothian health standards!

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    A study carried out by ACADEMICS from STIRLING University says it all.
    Not worth the paper it is written on, as it is compiled by left wing socialists fuelled by envy and jealousy, towards Scotland few real wealth creating entrepreneurs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    The kailyard attitude of many Scots to success is very apparent to anyone who returns from living outside Scotland. Couple this to a the rabid parochialism you also recognise on returning & you get a double whammy on entrepreuerial energy. Above all fifty years of modern ueberliberal educational techniques have undermined the thrift and enterprise that used to define the Scottish social millieu.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    I want to vote for an iron-wrought fence to be placed round westminster...

    Certainly, I am pro-independent scotland, the fewer people shackled to our particular brand of ineffectual puppets, the better.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    25. Presumably you'd prefer a press on the separtist side? I Know, everybody is wrong but Eck.

    The trouble with Scotland isn't inequality, it's lack of ambition and "tall poppy syndrome". Left of centre politics have let Scotland down for over half a century and simply wrapping them in a saltire won't change anything, it just let's the SepNatP rant about English/UK injustice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Simple fact reguardles of political System Captialist, Communist, Fascist. There are 2 types of people the Have's and the Have Not's. The Have's will climb over everyone and anyone in persuit of money. The Have Not's will fight on and struggle while always feeding the Have's greed. This is true accross the Globe not just in Britain

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    @ 24, Andy

    It seams Andy you have accidently made a very good point, after looking into Enquest I would say it is a UK based company not a “Britsih” company. Its big shareholders being US based pension funds etc. However the companies CEO Amjad Bseisu has 9.6 % stake in the company worth £95,000,000 pounds. Now is that not just too much money for one man to have!

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    @25.Calum McKay
    "british nationalists have the press on their side"

    Oh dear, not being pedantic, but I think you mean "unionists". I haven't seen many pro-BNP articles in any press recently. If, as you state, debate is important, then you really need to do a bit of research before partaking in this debate. Otherwise, you may end up looking a bit foolish.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Missed my point #23.

    Oil jobs is a huge story for all Scotland, a good news story!

    It will impact on people's opinion, therefore worthy of discussion.

    british nationalists have the press on their side, seems to me you'd seek to control discussion and stifle debate also.

    People need to debate important issues, absence of debate is unhealthy, informed decisions should be our aim

    C McK


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