Economists have recently developed a new term, to describe the nature of income inequality in the United States in particular. They call it fractal inequality, although I am unsure whether Benoit Mandelbrot, the inventor of the whole idea of fractals, would be that impressed. He died in 2010, with the application of fractals to financial markets that he presented in his 2004 book *The (Mis)behaviour of Markets*, still waiting to be fully taken on board by the risk and investment communities even after the 2008 crash.

A fractal is something that looks pretty much the same however much you zoom in or out on it. A cloud is one example. An equally beautiful example is the Mandelbrot Set (shown below), where a remarkably simple formula creates shapes of infinite complexity.

The reason it has come up in economics is that people are paid unequally. Very unequally. And even within the 1% of people who are paid unequally from the other 99%, people are paid unequally. To the extent that it starts to look a bit fractal. See what you think of these two graphs, taken from the HMRC personal income by tax year statistics:

So what about increasing inequality between the 1% and the 99%, as discussed from a US perspective in the first link above? In the UK it has certainly increased, but the rate depends on which time periods you compare. The range provided by HMRC is from 1999-00 to 2011-12. In this period of 12 years, the total income 99% of the population live below increased by 52%, compared to an increase of 41% in the median income (ie the total income 50% of the population live below). Compare this to the 7 years from 1992-93 to 1999-00, during which the total income 99% of the population live below increased by 54% (ie more than the 12 years for which records exist since) compared to a 25% increase in the median income.

The message seems to be that itâ€™s getting worse but not as badly as it used to be.