Pay inequality in Britain remains high, with "significant differences" between men and women and among ethnic minority groups, a Government-commissioned report has said.
A National Equality Panel, set up by ministers in 2008 to investigate inequalities, found that "deep-seated" differences remained between social groups, even though some of the widest gaps had narrowed in the last decade, such as the difference between men's and women's wages.
Differences in wealth affected the ability to buy houses in the catchment areas of the best schools and to help children onto the housing ladder, said the report.
Huge differences were also identified in the wealth of older people, with one in 10 households aged 55 to 64 having houses, pension rights and other money worth less than £28,000, while a 10th had more than £1.3 million.
Women up to the age of 44 had better qualifications than men but women's hourly pay was 21% less, according to the research.
Apparent discrimination against people from ethnic minorities was revealed, with those from nearly every minority group less likely to be in paid work than white British men and women.
Inequality in earnings and income was high in Britain compared with other industrialised countries and compared with 30 years ago, said the report.
The panel identified a number of areas, ranging from education and pensions to taxes and neighbourhood renewal, where policy interventions were needed to tackle inequalities.
The panel's chairman, Professor John Hills, said: "Most people and nearly all political parties subscribe to the ideal of equality of opportunity.
"But advantage and disadvantage reinforce themselves over the life cycle. It is hard to argue that the large and systematic differences in outcomes which we document result from personal choices made against a background of equality of opportunity, however that is defined."