Are the Dursleys rich?


A survey to determine who people think are rich – and who’s notby looking at fictional characters and other case studies.

Who’s rich? With 64% of people saying the rich should be taxed more, it’s a question fundamental to politics and society. But who is rich? And how should we measure it?

There’s a joke that everyone thinks ‘rich’ starts just above where they currently are – and with newspaper articles of someone in the top fraction of the population complaining they’re struggling being a regular feature, there’s a grain of truth in that. But there are also more serious questions: what about the difference between wealth and income – such as the pensioner in a house that has appreciated massively in value over the years? Business wealth that can’t be readily removed? Or someone with a high income, but who’s never saved into a pension or had a mortgage?

A single person with no dependents also clearly has more disposable income, for any given income, than a single mum with four kids on the same income. The ONS uses a standard way to account for household size, looking at equivalent net household income, which is pretty good, but not perfect (the IFS has also done a great calculator here). It also only looks at income, not wealth.

There are also more fundamental questions about why we’re thinking about this. Is it about day-to-day spending power in terms of who can afford household essentials in a cost-of-living crisis? Are we worried about the build-up of generational wealth which could entrench unearned advantages or disadvantages? Or are we thinking about the levels of wealth that could allow someone to exert meaningful political power in society – for example through media ownership, or political donations?

Before you take the survey, you can ensure you receive the results from this survey – and other posts I make – by entering your email address into the subscription form below.

The survey aims to get at our intuitions of who’s rich and who’s not, starting by presenting ten well known fictional families or individuals, to ask whether we think they’re rich.

It then looks at specific case studies – for example, a family with two children, where both parents earn a certain amount – before considering a few more abstract questions.

The survey consists of just over 30 multiple choice questions, which should take about 10 minutes to complete. It will be open until Sunday 7 May.

Follow this link to take the survey here.

If you’ve taken this survey, please do share it with friends or on social media – it’s one where it would be great to have lots of people taking part.

And you can ensure you receive the results of this survey – and any other posts that I make – by entering your email address into the subscription form below.

P.S. I am aware that this survey will not be statistically significant or of a form that would allow general conclusions about the population to be drawn – but it will nevertheless be interesting.