The Guardian view on a wealth tax: necessary but not sufficient | Editorial

As in the novels of Jane Austen, social mobility in Britain today appears dependent on the wealth you inherit or marry in to, rather than how much you can set aside from a pay packet

In the 1970s British households held wealth worth around three times the nation’s GDP. Today it’s more than seven times, the highest such ratio in over a century. People in the top 10% of society have £2.5m, on average, in wealth. The bottom 10% have virtually nothing. The gap cannot currently be made up by saving. As in the novels of Jane Austen, social mobility appears dependent on the wealth you inherit or marry in to, rather than how much you can set aside from wages.

Just how significant this trend has become was highlighted by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which last week said as many as one in 10 UK adults born in the 1980s will inherit more than half as much money from their parents as the average person earns in a lifetime. Those born 20 years earlier in the top decile had received less than a third of average lifetime earnings.

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