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Inequality and the top 10% in Europe

Autoría: Shana Cohen, Marcos Gonzalez Hernando, Gerry Mitchell, Lisa Pelling, Jesús Ruiz-Huerta Carbonell, Jorge San Vicente Feduchi, Gonzalo Velasco Monasterio


Inequality and the top 10% in Europe is a two-years pioneering study, conducted in four European countries, which examines the financial position and attitudes towards inequality amongst the top 10% of income earners. Most inequality studies concentrate on contrasting the top 1% with the other 99%. However, given the high participation in conventional politics and the strong political influence of the top 10%, it is vital to understand their economic position, perceptions and values.

The study, which comprises includes the analysis of over 100 interviews to members of the top 10% across UK, Spain, Sweden and Ireland, is the result of a joined effort of Fundación Alternativas (Spain), the Think Tank for Action on Social Change (TASC - Ireland), Compass(UK), Arena Idé (Sweden) and the Foundation for Progressive Studies (FEPS).

20 Europe-wide policy recommendations and several more for each country included in the study can be accessed in the following link >>> POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS HERE

Key Findings

1.       Those in the top 10% do not think of themselves as ‘rich’. They compare themselves and look at the more affluent but rarely interact with those in the top 1% or 0.1%

2.       They are further away from the top 1% than they are from the median earner (at 50%). The top 1% of earners is moving further away from the rest of population, also further from the rest of the 10%.

3.       They feel politically alienated and disconnected from the rest of the society, despite their political influence.

4.       They still hold on to meritocratic narratives to explain inequality; they tend to believe that working hard pays.

5.       They support redistribution more than they used to - but of course, the want higher taxes to be targeted on those earning more than they do. Most are ambivalent about or supportive of taxes on wealth whilst they often oppose inheritance tax because they want to leave something for their children.


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