2011 England riots linked to inequality

Income inequality contributed to the outbreak of widespread social unrest in English cities in the summer of 2011, according to a new briefing paper.

The paper examines the issues raised in the government-commissioned Riots, Communities and Victims Panel report, and points out that all of them are powerfully affected by inequality.

Key points

  • Where inequality is high, child well-being is low.
  • Relative deprivation adds to the stresses of family and community life, so removing sources of resilience.
  • In more unequal countries there is more pressure to acquire expensive symbols of status.
  • Increasing inequality brings more crime, including violent and acquisitive crimes. Where inequality is high, the evidence shows there is more deadly use of force on the part of police.
  • Greater inequality reduces social cohesion, weakens community life and lowers levels of trust.

In order to prevent future unrest, the paper concludes, action should be taken to promote a less unequal society, with high levels of trust and strong communities.

SourceInequality and the 2011 England Riots, Research Digest 5, Equality Trust