by Stewart Lansley
Most people think they are relatively poorer than they actually are, with the best off being more likely to think they are actually in the middle of the income hierarchy. The poor have the best estimates of their relative position.
In a study of middle income Britain conducted by YouGov for the TUC, a representative sample of the population's income range was asked: 'If everyone's income was arranged in order from lowest to highest, where do you think your income would be on this scale?' (Lansley, 2009). They were offered the choice of 'Towards the bottom', 'Below the middle', 'In the middle', 'Above the middle' or 'Towards the top'. The results are shown in Table 1. All participants have been divided into five income bands (quintiles) on the basis of their actual income. Each group represents a fifth of the population. Their actual position is then compared with their perceived position.