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High incomes study reveals women make up tiny fraction of top earners

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While women are becoming more prevalent in the top 10% of earners, they remain under-represented in the very top percentile. How does the UK stack up against other countries?

New research has revealed that women make up a smaller and smaller portion of the world’s highest earners.

A study by the London School of Economics (LSE) found that while women are increasing their representation in the top 10% of incomes, progress has stymied in the top 0.1%.

Co-author of the study, Alessandra Casarico, an associate professor at Bocconi University in Milan said: “Women now make up more of the top income groups, but they still are a distinct minority and they become rarer the higher one climbs. 

“Composition of income is important: In the old days, the rich were those with property; they have been replaced by CEOs and entrepreneurs, among whom women are not well represented.”

The study looked at tax data in eight countries dating back to the 1980s, in order to understand total income from a variety of sources, not just from earnings.

Women generally had an increased presence in the top 10% of earners, with only Australia decreasing in number. However, progress in the very top percentiles has slowed, suggesting that the ‘glass ceiling’ remains at executive levels of corporate business. 

In the UK, women made up 28% of the top 10% of earners (those earning over £40,400 a year), and 18% of the top 1% (those earning over £119,000).

When looking at those earning over £456,000 a year, the figure representing the top 0.1%, less than one in ten were women (9%). This was the lowest female representation amongst the six nations were this data was available.  

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