ASSET HOLDING AND CONSUMPTION VOLATILITY: Evidence on asset returns and asset ownership in the UK 2

Posted by Kathryn Schwartz on May 28, 2014

The rapid increase in share ownership coincided with a number of measures designed by the Conservative Government to promote a cshare-owning democracy’. The first was a program of privatization and the heavily advertised flotation of a number of public utilities including British Telecom (1984) and British Gas (1986). Privatisation accounts for a large part of the increase in the number of shareowners. More detailed information on share ownership contained in the 1987 and 1988 General Household Surveys, for example, shows that more than half of all shareholders owned shares in privatized companies, and that a large proportion owned shares only in a privatized company. However, the evidence also suggests that there was a more general increase in ownership of shares.
The information in the GHS shows that there was an increase in the proportion owning ‘other’ (i.e. non-privatised) shares from 10 per cent in 1987 to 13 per cent in 1988. Partly this may have been brought about indirectly through privatisation and the knock-on effects of increased awareness of and knowledge about share ownership. A second measure introduced by the Government was tax-favoured employee share schemes, three of which brought in between 1979 and 1984. By 1988 the total number of employees participating in such schemes was over 1.1 million.

Table 1

Share ownership by income and education

Highest level of education
Year Income Compulsory A levels or College
quin tile schooling equivalent education
1978 Quintile 1 2.0 8.1 11.3
Quintile 2 2.2 6.9 8.5
Quintile 3 2.7 11.0 11.4
Quintile 4 3.9 6.5 13.0
Quintile 5 6.2 19.6 29.6
1995 Quintile 1 7.6 15.7 18.9
Quintile 2 13.9 25.8 22.8
Quintile 3 20.1 27.7 31.5
Quintile 4 22.4 37.1 31.1
Quintile 5 28.9 40.5 42.4


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