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 Inequality and the top 10% in Europe was conducted in the UK, Spain, Sweden and Ireland by the Foundation for Progressive Studies (FEPS) in collaboration with the Think Tank for Action on Social Change (TASC - Ireland), Compass (UK), Fundación Alternativas (Spain) and Arena Idé (Sweden).
Five 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.