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24
Oct

a primer about social inequality

If Americans want to live the American Dream, they should go to Denmark. ~Richard Wilkinson

There’s a wonderful web channel called TED www.ted.com, that I often visit for the interesting speakers and topics.  A recent speaker was Richard Wilkinson, researcher on the harmful effects of economic inequality on societies.   It creates an imbalance that impacts every aspect of our lives.

View the video:  http://www.ted.com/talks/richard_wilkinson.html

The below quote is taken from his bio and helps to sum up his reasearch:

While poverty has long been recognized as an indicator for such social ills as crime, obesity, teen pregnancy, Wilkinson and Pickett have demonstrated that societal well-being bears no relation to per capita income. They’ve also found that the symptoms of inequality trouble all levels of society. Across the board, mental health, levels of violence and addiction, even life expectancy are affected by the psycho-social stress caused by income gaps and status anxiety.

He says: “While I’d always assumed that an equal society must score better on social cohesion, I never expected to find such clear differences between existing market economies.”

Credit: Richard Wilkinson research on life expectancy from http://www.TED.com

The chart above is research data on life expectancy from England and Wales.  The harmful effects of inequality had bearing not only life expectancy: it’s the whole gamut of life experiences that prove the uber-rich are treated better in every sense.

Richard Wilkinson is not a socialist, neither am I.   He is not talking about socialism or redistribution of wealth on this TED video.  The main point he’s discussing is the social status gaps between the rich and the poor and how it harmful it is on society, especially on the poor.

I found it so interesting, I hope you do, too.

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