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October 24, 2011


a primer about social inequality

by Andrea O'Connell

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

There’s a wonderful web channel called TED, 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:

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

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.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Oct 25 2011

    Hi Andrea! An amazing subject “social equality.” I assure you there is no need to go to Denmark, lol. I watch the American dream happening everyday all around me and in the face of inequality. 1st you have to understand what the American dream is all about and it is missed by most Americans. This is the land of Opportunity and Wealth if you can keep both in perspective. Like I have said before I learned this from my Mom. In 2011 Americans, in large numbers, have become lackadaisical, fat and uneducated by choice and yet we have new people that come to this country, go into business and work very hard to achieve. The only way to understand what I’m talking about would be to go to another country and insert yourself. There are few countries like ours that you can do this and yet most Americans would rather complain. 1% is born with the silver spoon the rest of us have to work. Point being….get over it before you complain your life away and taint the minds of the young-ins so we have another generation bleeding our social services.
    My Ex worked for the health dept in the largest county in our state for 25 years. Over 70% of the women signed up for the WICK program were “White” Americans. Their dept laughs at the political and media take that it is ethnic origin that is pilfering the services. I could go on and on.

    • Oct 25 2011

      Hi DP! I hear ya about complaining. Your mom was an immigrant – so were my grandparents, from Ireland. I guess we are the land of opportunity when it suits us? I don’t know…. will have to think more on this tomorrow…. it’s past my bedtime! 🙂


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