Here, courtesy of the Centre for Economic Performance, is how the share of income going to the richest 1% has changed since the start of the last century:
It is notable that although 1979 clearly stands out as a turning point, 1997 does not. The trend just continues as before.
They also point out that it is not just Chief Executive and similar posts which have seen sharp pay increases:
Although Chief Executive pay gets much of the media attention, they point out that it is far from the whole story when it comes to looking at how the best paid have fared compared to everyone else. Their more detailed research findings as far as CEOs go presents a more nuanced picture than most: CEO pay falls when company performance falls they find, and rises when it rises. Although rises tend to be more generous than the cuts are severe, the difference is not the great – and sackings of CEOs increase when performance falls.
What they do stress is the role of the finance sector in increasing the share of income to the richest: “Top 1% got an extra 1.6% of the income pie: but this was almost all finance workers”. A similar pattern emerges across the top 10% – it is predominantly the finance sector which has been causing the increasing share of the income pie going to the top 10% and in that sector it is not simply CEOs that have been the cause but also the best paid traders.
As far as the politics of all this goes, MORI’s data from 2008 is central: “The higher your personal income, the more likely you are to under-estimate how well off you are compared to other people in Britain”.