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Lecture Series

Lecture Series

Andy Summers

A sociological analysis of the UK’s global elite: evidence from tax records

The UK has proved an attractive destination for the world’s top earners and high net wealth individuals. In 2017, around one quarter of the top 1% by income originally came from abroad, rising to one third amongst the top 0.1% and to nearly four in ten of those within the top 0.01%. Although many of these migrants settle permanently, the UK offers a special tax regime to those who maintain foreign connections, who are known as ‘non-doms’ (i.e. individuals not domiciled in the UK). In the popular imagination, non-doms epitomise a globalised economic elite, simultaneously exerting significant influence within British society, yet remaining weakly tied to the place where they live. We use administrative tax data covering every individual who claimed ‘non-dom’ status from 1997-2017 to provide the first sociological anatomy of this enigmatic group. We will present our initial findings on their national origins and the neighbourhoods within which they live, allowing us to explore the non-dom population on scales from the global down to local. We will also outline an agenda for further work on the sociology of elites in the UK.

“Actors do not behave or decide as atoms outside a social context ... Their attempts at purposive action are instead embedded in concrete, ongoing systems of social relations.”— Mark Granovetter