A Nation Divided by Wealth?

Brian Nolan

A vital part of making the most of time in Oxford is accessing the huge range of seminars and events across the University. It was encouraging to see DSPI staff and students well represented at yesterday’s event at the Oxford Martin School: 'An age-old problem? Exploring Britain’s new wealth divides.'

Brian Nolan, Professor of Social Policy here at DSPI, introduced the event in his role as Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Inequality and Prosperity. The panel featured The Rt Hon. the Lord David Willetts, Professor John Muellbauer (Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School), and Conor D’Arcy and Laura Gardiner from the Resolution Foundation.

Conor and Laura dived into an overview of the Intergenerational Commission’s forthcoming report analysing Britain’s wealth across generations, showing a number of trends suggesting that younger cohorts are building up less wealth than their older counterparts at the same age. Discussion moved on to the difficulties and growing burdens for post-1980 generations. The panel was united in suggesting that there are social interventions that can tackle these problems, but, as Brian Nolan commented, ‘getting these politically implemented seems an enormous challenge.’

Members of DSPI got stuck into the question time, as debate raged from those who wanted to hang onto their ‘hard-earned’ wealth, to the thorny questions of land tax and whether social policy should encourage home ownership. Fran Bennett raised the issue of the increasing individualisation of wealth within households.

In his closing remarks, Brian Nolan set down this challenge: ‘this is not an economically functional model that we’re currently operating.’

If you’re intrigued and want to learn more, you can watch the event here and explore the links above.