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What people earn

(99 Posts)
LauraBridges Sat 15-Feb-14 13:13:16

Today's FT has a fascinating examination of income over 40 years from various jobs and professions:

The fractured middle: UK salary split sees übers pull ahead

A deep divide has opened among Britain’s high earners, with an “über-middle” elite reaping the rewards of globalisation while millions of “cling-on” professionals struggle to sustain a middle class lifestyle.

An analysis of almost 40 years’ worth of data on salaries for the Financial Times has found that a large, highly qualified group has slipped down the economic league table. The findings starkly illustrate the growing inequality, driven by the highest earners, that policy makers are grappling with. President Barack Obama has identified the divide as a central theme of his second term.
In a week when the Bank of England issued bullish forecasts for economic growth, capping the most sustained run of upgrades since it gained independence in 1997, it will also raise questions about which groups are reaping the spoils of the recovery.



LauraBridges Sun 16-Feb-14 17:58:35

The Sunday Times has an article about assortive mating - says where as the doctor used to marry the nurse and boss his secretary now power and money marry power and money - the two lawyers marry etc which of course leads to concentrations of power and I am sure is happening and not surprising.

WoodBurnerBabe Sun 16-Feb-14 18:03:48

I am married to another engineer. The three couples who are my best friends are 2 pairs of engineers, and a pair of doctors. Interesting...

LauraBridges Sun 16-Feb-14 18:10:38

I think they are saying if you go back to when I went to university (30 years!) only 15% of my age group went so not surprisingly most people did not marry graduates (although my parents met at university in the 1940s so even then it worked and they were similarly extremely bright etc so a good match in that sense and I just about did).

tryingreallytrying Sun 16-Feb-14 18:35:14

Really, Wood?

Am shocked.

DS is almost certain to be an engineer one day - that is where his passion lies - so hope he can earn somewhat more than 46K!

tryingreallytrying Sun 16-Feb-14 18:37:42

claig - Tony Blair is as much a 'progressive' as the National Socialists aka Nazis were socialists ie not at all.

Stop believing everything people claim about themselves, esp when they have very vested interests for doing so. Calling black white does not make it so.

intheround Sun 16-Feb-14 18:42:49

Friend of mine is a vet with 20 years experience . At a recent job interview she was offered �15 an hour.
The comment in theOP about certain highly qualified professionals seeing their salaries drop is correct.

DonnaDishwater Sun 16-Feb-14 18:44:07

What exactly does "progressive" mean? Is there a definition fixed in stone?

I would be delighted if my DS earns anything approaching £46k a year.

NotJustACigar Sun 16-Feb-14 18:50:54

For academics the problem is much worse than it appears from this article. The salaries quoted are only for the very lucky few who can actually find work - most seem to go on an endless merry-go-round of low paid post doc positions until they finally give up and enter the private sector.

But the reason to pick a career isn't only for the money. I would be bored to tears working in the financial industry and £100k wouldn't be enough to compensate me for that. Now in an engineering field I am really interested in the work I do and so are my colleagues. I think it's all about finding a balance.

My DH earns a lot less than I do but between the two of us we're on enough to feel like we don't have to worry about money as long as we aren't overly extravagant. Surely there has to be a concept of "enough" and then if we're lucky enough to have it we can then focus our attention on something besides money?

claig Sun 16-Feb-14 18:53:01

'What exactly does "progressive" mean? Is there a definition fixed in stone?'

No it is quite a fluid term, but it is used as a term to portray left wing policies as opposed to conservative right wing policies. It has been around for at least a century, but has seen an increased usage in politics here since New Labour lost the election in 2010 and a rebranding was needed for left wing since "socialist" had already been dropped as an Old Labour term by New Labour.

LauraBridges Sun 16-Feb-14 19:01:35

Most people are content to earn "enough" (whatever is enough for them) and as money does not lead to happiness inequality does not really matter as long as you have enough to eat and are warm and housed. I have worked with plenty of scientists and engineers and even a vet who have moved to owning the business, in pharma, biotec and general engineering. There are routes to power and money as a scientist/engineer which do not have to involve working in a hedge fund or as a patent lawyer. You can make and own. However you have to want and love that power, money and control and be ambitious. Not all men and women are so.

claig Sun 16-Feb-14 19:02:52

' Surely there has to be a concept of "enough" and then if we're lucky enough to have it we can then focus our attention on something besides money?'

Not really, NotJustACigar, because in general high salaries attract greater numbers of students who want to fill those positions.

There are people who don't care about growth and want low-growth for us, but for us a society, we need growth, innovation and enterprise - not just services who feed off of business.

We need to incentivise students to study difficult subjects such as engineering and science rather than soft options, and money plays a large part in that. We need to upgrade science, technology and teaching in order to attract the best and the brightest in greater numbers in order to build a future for our society. The status of teachers and scientists must rise and it is often money that is respected by other people as a sign of success.

Higher salaries create greater respect which attracts more entrants and leads to more industry and growth and a better lifestyle for people.

claig Sun 16-Feb-14 19:07:10

We need to nationalise our banks and create a national investment bank that funds science and technology so that we as a country can create teh Googles and Microsofts of the future.

We have got the brains in our universities. What we are short of is funds because we don't have venture capitalists who understand technology in the way that he United States has. We have "human rights lawyers" and "environmental lawyers" who understand "windmills". That's why our energy and initiative is being dissipated.

NotJustACigar Sun 16-Feb-14 19:12:22

Good point, claig. A high enough salary for an individual is one thing, but I'm in complete agreement about needing, as a society, to incentivise the things that matter such as science and engineering and teaching.

At the same time I also think we're too focused on money as a society. My parents and my friends parents (in their sixties and seventies now) talk a lot about the fact that money wasn't quite as difficult to come by in their day. You could be an artist and work odd jobs to pay the rent. You could be a teacher and buy a flat in London. You could study what you wanted at university simply because you were interested in the topic. You didn't have to pick your profession just based on which salary had the most zeros at the end of it in order to feel financially secure. Perhaps the reason those days are pretty much gone has to do with the huge salaries in the financial sector that leave only crumbs for most of the rest of us?

claig Sun 16-Feb-14 19:17:13

'Perhaps the reason those days are pretty much gone has to do with the huge salaries in the financial sector that leave only crumbs for most of the rest of us?'

Exactly. In the old days, the gap between people was not so wide.

But now young children see footballers and pop stars and bankers earning huge money and they undervalue more important and socially useful jobs because of it.

People slog their guts out working and studying and just scrape by and then they see "human rights lawyers" like Cherie Blair earning hundreds of thousands a year and they think what is the point of studying for PhDs in science when it is not paid adequately.

LauraBridges Sun 16-Feb-14 20:15:12

People are greedier. They think they are entitled to buy new clothes for their children - 20+ years ago we bought them all second hand without a second thought, never ate out, didn't buy things like hair conditioner due to cost etc. Growth and greed and envy aren't necessarily a good.

claig Sun 16-Feb-14 20:32:36

I'm not sure it is envy and I don't think it is about greed.

I think people see others doing disproportionately well i.e. bankers and lawyers and politicians in directorships and making millions in speeches and they begin to wonder if the system is fixed, if there is a closed shop where social mobility has declined for most people and where PPEs from Oxford seem to make up the majority of positions in Parliament, and where Devon and Cornwall gets a lower priority than Surrey.

People begin to wonder if these people earning hundreds of thousands as "human rights lawyers" etc are really that gifted or if they have become entitled through a system that favours them and prevents the social mobility and progress of other people. They begin to wonder if it is really a meritocracy or not.

When rewards become too excessive and disproportionate and when people see that many of these figures are not gifted, they begin to wonder if the system is unjust.

claig Sun 16-Feb-14 20:39:04

Even the comedian bob Mortimer has asked the question

"Well-educated comics are benefitting from the 'Footlights factor' and are scooping up all the top jobs.

That is the view of comedian Bob Mortimer, who says Oxbridge-educated entertainers have a lot more opportunities and questioned why.

He has asked whether comedians who went to Oxbridge really are the funniest and, if they are not, why they get work. He said some of them get the best gigs despite lacking humour."

I never found Mortimer very funny so I am not sure if he has a point.

tryingreallytrying Sun 16-Feb-14 20:43:56

I don't think many people are still under the illusion we live in a meritocracy. If we did, clearly we wouldn't have the idiots in power that we do currently.

In fact, we appear to live in a kind of "Peter principle" society, in which those at the top have clearly been promoted to their level of incompetence.

tryingreallytrying Sun 16-Feb-14 20:45:42

Actually, I do think many of the funniest, sharpest comedians did go to Oxbridge; certainly lots of my favourites.

But then there's probably a clear link between humour and brains.

Sadly, not always a clear link between brains and morals, though, as our political class demonstrate.

claig Sun 16-Feb-14 21:02:23

'I don't think many people are still under the illusion we live in a meritocracy. If we did, clearly we wouldn't have the idiots in power that we do currently.'

I think you are right and that is why people are beginning to have enough of the idiots. Very few people object to a real meritocracy. but when we have to bail out bankers who earn millions and when we pay quangocrats £100,000 for a 3 day week and peoples homes and businesses are flooded and when the Cabinet has more Etonians than women in it, we start to wonder what the hell is going on.

HanSolo Sun 16-Feb-14 21:29:30

>>However you have to want and love that power, money and control and be ambitious.

Not necessarily- maybe one just doesn't want to work for somebody else?

trying - My brother is an engineer, he owns homes in 2 different European countries, earned more than £46k by age 28, isn't yet 40yo. Needless to say, he does not work in UK!

tryingreallytrying Sun 16-Feb-14 21:38:33

Ah, shame, Hans. sad

Wish the UK valued engineers too.

We had many engineers in my family - but not in the UK...

tryingreallytrying Sun 16-Feb-14 21:42:11

I think having lots of money money matters not just to buy oneself baubles - clearly most normal people hit the 'enough' point fairly soon.

But money matters because those with lots of it - often because they have no scruples - use it to buy power and corrupt democracy.

So it matters that money is shared among more than just a few power-mad megalomaniacs.

Or you end up with a govt like ours.

HanSolo Sun 16-Feb-14 22:05:05

Money buys choice mainly, I think.

I don't think people necessarily want it because they're greedy, more because they want security, and choice. One can hardly deny life is better when one has money. It gives one freedom.

LauraBridges Mon 17-Feb-14 07:12:10

Does it matter though if others have more than you? It doesn't make anyone happier and indeed some of the happiest people live on the land and are outside most of the day. I am not sure all richer people would say it gives them freedom. More likely they feel on a treadmill.

Also I don't agree it is a moral good to encourage huge development of this planet and much more heavy industry. If we feed people without that why corrupt them with more and more consumer goods?

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