Blog & Articles

money 2

The Spirit Level: is income equality the sole solution?

Date: 14. January 2011
Vidhya Alakeson and

Earlier this week, the ippr hosted a seminar with Richard Wilkinson, author of The Spirit Level. Wilkinson presented data set after data set to make one basic point: more equal societies have better social outcomes such as rates of mental illness and teenage pregnancy, not just for those at the bottom but for everyone. A wealthy, well-educated person in Sweden will be healthier and his children will do better at school than a similarly wealthy person in the UK. This is because Sweden is a more equal society than the UK, by which Wilkinson means that the ratio of the incomes of the top 20 percent in society compared to the bottom 20 percent is smaller.

Wilkinson’s theory about why unequal societies have poorer social outcomes stems from evolutionary psychology. He argues that in an unequal society, concerns about status dominate. Those at the bottom of the income distribution have low status which leads to persistent stress which in turn leads to poor social outcomes due to the negative impacts of elevated levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. The impact of cortisol on health, in particular, has been well documented by the World Health Organisation and others as part of the explanation for persistent health inequalities...

read more


Share this

Filters

Rss Feed

Archive

Tag Cloud

Gavin Kelly Resolution Foundation living standards childcare James Plunkett Housing wages inflation tax credits Squeezed Middle tax Vidhya Alakeson coalition inequality Matthew Whittaker minimum wage new statesman Debt Spending Review female employment growth low pay Squeezed Britain Universal Credit autumn statement Labour USA welfare women work incentives Budget 2012 employment generation rent giselle cory household income IFS institutional investment interest rates labour market living wage low to middle income politics recovery social mobility affordability Audit budget 2011 cameron Commission on Living Standards distribution earnings economy Ed Miliband education fiscal choices household debt living low pay commission older workers skills social care spending round sr2013 unemployment zero hours Affordable Housing America bank of england budget child benefit child poverty cost of living David Cameron debt target degree Guardian income jared bernstein joe coward lee savage Lib Dems living costs measuring poverty middle class mortgages Obama pay poverty recession tax cuts uk 10p arrears benefits borrowing Commission cpi cuts david willetts debt forgivenes dilnot Donald Hirsch fiscal forbearance gearing George Osborne great stagnation household housing market huffington post income tax ippr Ipsos MORI jobs gap lane kenworthy Low earners matthew pennycook monetary policy Nick Clegg pension Pensions personal allowance personal allowances polarisation precarious work prices prospect q2 growth regional renting rpi shared ownership social housing social mobility foundation Sophia Parker standards sutton trust tax changes tax relief think tank think-tank underemployment Wage squeeze 2013 Work working poor zero hours contract 'Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings' 'earnings squeeze' 'squeeze' 'wage stagnation' #ows £10000 2011 2012 50p 99% a matter of time Alan Johnson Alex Hurrell allowance andrew haldane Anna Vignoles apprenticeships ASHE assets Australia below minimum wage benefit freezes borgen Boris Johnson budget 2013 cap care assistant centreforum chancellor childcar choices CiF citizens UK Coalition politics Conor D'Arcy conservatives contracts Cost of Motherhood costs council tax council tax benefit CPIH daniel chandler datablog de-coupling debt peril deficit department for education dependency election election 2015 enforcement equity release family felicity dennistoun Financial Times first-time buyers food prices full employment gap GDP gender gingerbread good life gregg growth without gain HELP Committee higher rate higher rate tax relief hmrc holmes homeownership hourglass household finances household spending illegal in work income inequality incomes increase Independent indignados international jobs John Van Reenen jrf Labour Party Left Foot Forward liberal democrats living wage foundation LMIs low middle earners Low Pay Britain low pay threshold low to middle income earners low wage low wage work machin marginal tax rate marriage tax allowance matt whittaker matthew hancock mayhew median real wage median wage Mervyn King Middle Britain miminum wage minimum income standards missing out mobility Montague mortgage market mothers national minimum wage netmums new statesman blog new year newby newham niesr nil hours number paid below minimum wage nursery world OBR occupy occupy wall street OECD older ons over 50s paul gregg pay and pensions pay progression pensions relief personal personal finance pledge cards policy politicans poll population precarious employment predistribution prescription charges priorities private rented private rented sector private sector growth progression prs public sector public services public spending ratios reduce credit card reform Regions Rented Sector resolution foudnation retirement robin wales robots routine jobs RPIJ rss savings self-employment Senate shared shereen hussein social society southern cross spending cuts squeezed state state pension age statistics steve machin tax and benefit changes tax and benefits Tax Benefits technology The Spirit Level threshold tories travel time Treasury trends unison university US election van reenen VAT voters voting wage wage growth wage inequality Welfare Debate welfare state White Paper workers Working part time lower skilled job young people Youth unemployment youth wages zero-hours