"An age-old problem? Exploring Britain’s new wealth divides" - Panel Discussion

05 June 2017

Portrait of Professor Brian Nolan

with Professor Brian Nolan
Professor of Social Policy

Brian Nolan is Director of INET’s Employment, Equity and Growth Programme and Professor of Social Policy at the Department of Social Policy and Intervention. He was previously Principal of the College of Human Sciences and Professor of Public Policy ...

This event is in partnership with the Resolution Foundation

The accumulation and distribution of wealth across Britain has been a contentious issue since the dawn of economics. But while wealth inequality is traditionally viewed as being between rich and poor, a new divide is also emerging – the wealth gap between generations.

The failure of younger generations to accumulate wealth – through pensions, property and savings – will reduce their lifetime living standards, particularly once they reach retirement. This would have profound implications for both families and the state, so what can be done?

As part of its Intergenerational Commission, chaired by Lord Willetts, the Resolution Foundation will soon be publishing a series of papers analysing Britain’s wealth across generations. Ahead of this launch, the Oxford Martin School is hosting an event to explore these issues and the role of public policy in tackling Britain’s new wealth divides.

Experts from the Foundation will present some of the emerging findings from its work on intergenerational wealth inequality, while Professors John Muellbauer and Brian Nolan will discuss possible policy responses, before taking part in an audience Q&A.

About the speakers

Conor D'Arcy joined the Resolution Foundation in September 2013 as Policy Analyst. His work focuses on a range of labour market issues including the minimum wage, self-employment, pay progression and zero-hours contracts.

Prior to that, he worked for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and for an MP. He studied sociology and English literature at Trinity College Dublin and has a master’s in social policy from the London School of Economics.

Laura Gardiner joined the Resolution Foundation in March 2014 as a Senior Research and Policy Analyst. Her work at the Foundation has focused on analysis of the labour market, including pay trends, self-employment and the social care workforce. She now specialises in intergenerational issues, and is secretary to the Intergenerational Commission.

Prior to joining the Resolution Foundation Laura spent four years at the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion, where she worked on unemployment, young people, welfare reform and housing. Laura studied social and political sciences at Cambridge University before completing a master’s degree in public policy at Brown University in the US.

John Muellbauer is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School and Professor of Economics at the University of Oxford. He is primarily an applied macroeconomist, though his microeconomic textbook with Angus Deaton, Economics and Consumer Behaviour, CUP 1980, is still in print. His 1980 paper with Angus Deaton, An Almost Ideal Demand System in the American Economic Review was selected as one of the top twenty papers published in the first one hundred years of that journal.

One important aim of his current research is to achieve a better understanding of interactions between the financial sector and the real economy. A major element is to study the impact of credit market liberalisation on consumer debt, spending and housing markets in the UK, US, and Australia and non-liberalisation in Japan to throw new light on monetary transmission, financial stability and monetary policy. Closely related is studying the determinants of mortgage defaults in the UK, and examining forecast scenarios highly relevant to stress-testing of the banking system.

Other recent research includes modelling house prices and mortgage stocks in major economies, regional housing and labour markets in the UK, modelling and forecasting inflation and exchange rate passthrough and forecasting growth in G7 countries. The macroeconomics of the South African economy is a continuing research interest. An important theme in his research has been the impact of institutional differences both across countries and through time, on monetary transmission and macroeconomic fluctuations. He has contributed extensively to the UK debate over housing market issues, including property taxation.

Brian Nolan is Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Inequality and Prosperity; Director of the Employment, Equity and Growth Programme at the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School; and Professor of Social Policy at the University of Oxford. He was previously Principal of the College of Human Sciences and Professor of Public Policy at University College Dublin.

His main areas of research are income inequality, poverty, and the economics of social policy. Recent research has focused on trends in income inequality and their societal impacts, the distributional effects of the economic crisis, social inclusion in the EU, top incomes, deprivation and multiple disadvantage, and tax/welfare reform. He has been centrally involved in a range of collaborative cross-country research networks and projects, most recently the Growing Inequalities’ Impacts (GINI) multi-country research project on inequalities and their impacts funded by the EU’s Framework Programme 7.

Recent books include The Handbook of Economic Inequality (2008) which he co-edited with Wiemer Salverda and Tim Smeeding, Poverty and Deprivation in Europe (2011) co-authored with Christopher T. Whelan, The Great Recession and the Distribution of Household Income (2013), edited with Stephen Jenkins, Andrea Brandolini and John Micklewright, and two co-edited volumes from the GINI project in 2013.

The Rt Hon. the Lord Willetts joined the Resolution Foundation as Executive Chair in June 2015. He is a Visiting Professor at King’s College London, Governor of the Ditchley Foundation and a member of the Council of the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

He was Minister for Universities and Science, attending Cabinet, from 2010-2014. He was the Member of Parliament for Havant from 1992-2015. Before that David Willetts worked at HM Treasury and the Number 10 Policy Unit. He also served as Paymaster General in the last Conservative government.

He has written widely on economic and social policy. His most recent book, The Pinch: How the baby boomers took their children’s future – and why they should give it back was published by Atlantic Books in 2010.