Taking stock

Report for the Scottish Poverty and Inequality Commission

There has been a growing appreciation in recent years that living standards are determined not just by income (the flow of money into a household) but also by wealth (the stock of assets a household owns). Wealth can take various forms: it can be held in financial instruments (for example, a savings account or as shares); in a private pension; or as a physical asset (for example, land, an art work or piece of jewellery). But the most visible way that households accumulate and store significant amounts of wealth is through the ownership of their (or others’) homes.

Compared to income, wealth has generally been poorly measured – unsurprising given that it has only recently become the subject of serious study. As a result, erroneous or unexamined views about the topic are widespread. In this report, we bring together a wide range of data sources to take a long, hard look at both the scale and distribution of housing wealth in Scotland over time. In light of the evidence, we then reflect on a number of ways that Scottish policy makers could address the growing concerns about the scale and impact of housing wealth inequality.