Tuesday, November 04, 2008

statistics and lies

The press made head-lines of this report :
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Growing Unequal? report published on 21st October 2008 found that “since 2000, income inequality and poverty have fallen faster in the UK than in any other OECD country”

However , not much was reported on this report Poverty and inequality in the UK: 2008 by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) published in June this year, which found that in the UK “income inequality has risen for its second successive year and is now equal to its highest-ever level (at least since comparable records began in 1961)”.

The OECD report covers the period from 2000 to 2005, whereas the IFS report covers data up until 2007. The IFS report notes an increase in poverty in the last two years which includes an extra 300,000 children living in poverty between 2005 and 2007, and nearly a half a million pensioners entering poverty in the same period. Overall relative poverty increased by 400,000 in 2006/07 alone. Therefore it could be that 2000 to 2005 was the halcyon period of UK poverty reduction (OECD), but this has been reversed in the subsequent two years (IFS).

even so , the positive spin placed on the OECD report couldn't disguise its other findings , that the “the gap between rich and poor is still greater in the UK than in three quarters of OECD countries”. It also states that “the wage gap has widened by 20% since 1985”, and that “child poverty rates are still above the levels recorded in the mid-1980s”

Neither report studied actual wealth distribution which shows that wealth inequality has expanded most aggressively in the years between 1996 to 2003 – the period of Labour in government.

Not considered was that personal debt ballooned in the UK from 102% of personal income in 1997 to 160% of personal income by the end of 2005 and now with the credit crunch unraveling insolvency and re-possessions loom ahead .


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