On inequality, the BBC’s headline doesn’t line up with the facts

May 14, 2019 by

from the Institute of Economic Affairs:

Imagine if a sports journalist regularly described Sergio Agüero as a Manchester United player and insisted that West Bromwich Albion won the Premier League this season.

Imagine a political correspondent routinely referring to the Liberal Democrats as the ruling party and claiming that the Chancellor was Michael Fabricant.

They wouldn’t last very long. Readers and editors take a dim view of hacks who make basic mistakes with easily verifiable information. But when it comes to economic statistics that can be checked in a few seconds, standards are slacker. As a result, the British public have been told for over a decade that income inequality, relative poverty and child poverty are rising (or even ‘soaring’) when they are not.

The data on these economic variables are so easy to access via the Office of National Statistics (ONS) that journalists should be genuinely ashamed when they get it wrong. And yet shameless misinformation continues.

A classic example arrived today when the Institute for Fiscal studies launched what it called the ‘most ambitious study of its kind’ into inequality, to be led by the respected economist Angus Deaton. The project will look at ‘inequality not just of income, but of health, wealth, political participation, and opportunity; and not just between rich and poor but by gender, ethnicity, geography, age and education’.

Under the headline ‘Growing inequality threatens democracy’,[1] two BBC journalists reported this news as follows:

Read here


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