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The Science Is In: Greater Equality Makes Societies Healthier

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The Science Is In: Greater Equality Makes Societies Healthier

What matters is where we stand in relation to others in our own society.


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Low levels of income inequality correlate with better health, education and social well-being.

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Countries with low levels of income inequality have lower infant and maternal mortality rates, lower rates of depression, and a more educated public, compared to those with a huge gap between the rich and the poor. So says this eye-opening article by professors Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. Their research finds that the United States fares poorly – relative to other advanced nations – on standard measures of human welfare such as health, education and social cohesion. While always politically neutral, getAbstract recommends this brief article on the links between wealth disparities and well-being to anyone interested in the broad impacts of severe income inequity within countries.


Extreme income inequality takes a toll on the health, education and social well-being of entire societies, not just on the individuals at the bottom of the economic ladder. Consider, for example, that the life expectancy of infants born in Greece is 1.2 years higher than that of babies born in the United States. And in America, infants are twice as likely to die during their first year than those born in Japan, though the United States spends far more on health care and boasts higher average incomes per capita than either Greece or Japan. A noteworthy fact is that both these nations have...

About the Authors

Richard Wilkinson is professor emeritus of social epidemiology at the University of Nottingham. Kate Pickett is a professor of epidemiology at the University of York.

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