Pre-pandemic wealth inequality remained high

Official Statistics published

New statistics show average wealth remained stable while wealth inequality remained high.

According to the latest data from just before the pandemic, a typical household in Scotland had £214,000 in total wealth, similar to previous years. A typical household in the wealthiest 10% of households had £1.6 million in total wealth, whereas a typical household in the least wealthy 10% of households had £7,500. The least wealthy households rarely own property or have any private pension savings. Their wealth is mainly made up of the value of their possessions such as cars, furniture and clothing.

Wealth inequality was more severe than income inequality: the 2% of households with the highest incomes had 9% of all income, while the wealthiest 2% of households had 15% of all wealth.

Households that tend to be wealthier than others are higher income households, pensioner couples, and home owners. In contrast, households with below average wealth tend to be low income households, lone parent and single working-age adult households, and those in rented housing.

Three out of ten households had insufficient savings to keep them above the poverty line for a month should they lose their income. Four per cent of households were in unmanageable debt. A third of households did not own any property, and a third of adults had no private pension savings.

The released figures were produced in accordance with professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.


The full statistical publication: Wealth in Scotland 2006-2020

It sets out the current state of personal wealth and wealth inequality in Scotland and how this has changed over recent years. Estimates are based on data from the the Office for National Statistics’ Wealth and Assets Survey, which covers a range of topics around wealth and assets in Great Britain, including financial wealth and debt, property wealth and private pension savings.    

Personal wealth includes financial wealth, property wealth, private pension savings (including occupational and personal pensions), and physical wealth (possessions such as cars, furniture and clothing).

Insufficient savings refer to whether households have enough savings to entirely replace an income for a certain amount of time.

Data from the Wealth and Assets Survey has been collected since 2006-2008. The latest data covers the period from April 2018 to March 2020, before the first UK-wide lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Official statistics are produced by professionally independent statistical staff – more information on the standards of official statistics in Scotland is available.


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