Photo by kind permission of Matt Stuart
Why more equal societies do better
Richard Wilkinson
Emeritus Professor of Social ...
2
3
Income per head and life-expectancy: rich & poor countries
Source: Wilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level (2009) www.equa...
‘‘Cross-country data show almost no relation
between changes in life expectancy and
economic growth over 10, 20, or 40-yea...
www.equalitytrust.org.uk
WorldaverageCO2
www.equalitytrust.org.ukWilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level
Life expectancy in rich countries is
no longer related to Na...
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
78
79
80
Local Neighbourhoods
(in England & Wales)
Lifeexpectancy(years)
Richest Poorest
Wilkinson...
3.7 3.9
4.3 4.6 4.8
5.2 5.3 5.6 5.6 5.6 5.7
6.1 6.2
6.7 6.8 6.8
7.2
8.5
9.7
4.0
8.0
7.0
3.4
Japan
Finland
Norway
SwedenDen...
Wilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level
Index of:
• Life expectancy
• Math & Literacy
• Infant mortality
• Homicides
• Impri...
www.equalitytrust.org.ukWilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level
Neither health nor social problems are
related to national i...
www.equalitytrust.org.ukWilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level
Child well-being is better in more equal countries
www.equalitytrust.org.ukWilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level
The UNICEF Index of Child Wellbeing is not
related to Nation...
Wilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level www.equalitytrust.org.uk
People in more unequal countries
trust each other less
Wilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level www.equalitytrust.org.uk
People in more unequal states of
the USA trust each other l...
www.equalitytrust.org.ukWilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level
Mental illness is more common in
more unequal societies
16
Infant Mortality Rates are Higher in More Unequal Countries
Source: Wilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level (2009) www.eq...
0
30
60
90
120
150
180
Income Inequality
Homicidespermillionpeople
Low High
Daly M, Wilson M, Vasdev S. Income inequality ...
www.equalitytrust.org.ukWilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level
Imprisonment rates are higher in
more unequal countries
19
Teenage Birth Rates are Higher in More Unequal Rich Countries
Source: Wilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level (2009) www....
www.equalitytrust.org.ukWilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level
Social mobility is lower in more unequal countries
Social Relations
• Child conflict
• Homicide
• Imprisonment
• Social capital
• Trust
Bigger income gaps lead to
deteriorat...
Indicator International US 50 States
Census GiniUN 20:20 OECD Gini
r p r p r p
Child wellbeing -071 <0.01 -0.68 0.01 - -
T...
Zheng H. Social Science & Medicine 2012; 75: 36-45.
Mortality:OddsRatio
Lag time - Years
Lag times: marginal impact of a 0...
Kondo et al, BMJ, 2009; 339: b4471
Inequality and mortality over time:
meta-analysis of multilevel cohort studies
Wilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level
Index of:
• Life expectancy
• Math & Literacy
• Infant mortality
• Homicides
• Impri...
0
5
10
15
Single
mothers
Low High
Father's occupational class
Infantdeathsper1000
England & Wales
Sweden
Leon, D. A., D. V...
27
Literacy Scores of 16-25 year olds by
Parents' Education
-1.5
-1
-0.5
0
0.5
1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
P...
More
inequality
• More superiority and inferiority
• More status competition and consumerism
• More status insecurity
• Mo...
Social Status and Friendship
Opposite sides of the same coin:
Social status (dominance hierarchies, pecking orders)
are or...
Companion
Spanish: Compañero;
French: Copain
from the Latin “Con” (with)
and “Pan” (bread)
- someone with whom you eat bre...
33
Psychosocial risk factors for ill health
 Low social status
 Weak social connections
 Stress in early life (pre- and...
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1
Other
tasks
Tasks with ‘social
evaluative threat’
(uncontrollable)
Cortisolresponse(effect
size)
Dicke...
Loughnan S, et al. Economic Inequality is linked to biased
Self enhancement increases in more unequal
societies
Rising narcissism among American college students
(meta-analysis of 85 samples 1979-2006)
NarcissisticPersonalityInventory...
Mishel L, Sabadish N. Economic Policy Institute Brief #331. Washington, May 2012
Changing ratio of CEO pay to average pay ...
Rising income inequality in Britain 1979-2011Inequality
(Gini)
Cribb J, Joyce R, Phillips D. Living standards, poverty and...
What can be done?
Taxes & benefits
• Stop tax
avoidance
• End tax havens
• Make taxation
progressive
again
Income differen...
40
http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk
For more information:
… a book
and a
website…
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  • The public and policy response? more:- Police Doctors Social Workers Drug rehabilitation units Educational Psychologists But…services are expensive and only partially effective.
  • Uslaner
  • Most important sources of chronic stress – relative risks and population attributable risk Pointer – underlying source of stress: Social anxiety Eyes of others Social Gateway
  • Prof wilkinson presentation

    1. 1. Photo by kind permission of Matt Stuart Why more equal societies do better Richard Wilkinson Emeritus Professor of Social Epidemiology
    2. 2. 2
    3. 3. 3 Income per head and life-expectancy: rich & poor countries Source: Wilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level (2009) www.equalitytrust.org.uk
    4. 4. ‘‘Cross-country data show almost no relation between changes in life expectancy and economic growth over 10, 20, or 40-year time periods between 1960 and 2000. Many countries have shown remarkable improvements in health with little or no economic growth...’’ Cutler D, Deaton A, Lleras-Muney A. The Determinants of Mortality. J Economic Perspectives 2006; 20: 97– 120.
    5. 5. www.equalitytrust.org.uk WorldaverageCO2
    6. 6. www.equalitytrust.org.ukWilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level Life expectancy in rich countries is no longer related to National Income per head
    7. 7. 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 Local Neighbourhoods (in England & Wales) Lifeexpectancy(years) Richest Poorest Wilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level www.equalitytrust.org.uk Life expectancy is strongly related to income within rich countries
    8. 8. 3.7 3.9 4.3 4.6 4.8 5.2 5.3 5.6 5.6 5.6 5.7 6.1 6.2 6.7 6.8 6.8 7.2 8.5 9.7 4.0 8.0 7.0 3.4 Japan Finland Norway SwedenDenmark Belgium AustriaGermanyNetherlands Spain France CanadaSwizterland Ireland Greece Italy Israel New ZealandAustralia UK Portugal USASingapore Income gaps How many times richer are the richest fifth than the poorest fifth? Wilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level www.equalitytrust.org.uk Inequality... How much richer are the richest 20% in each country than the poorest 20%?
    9. 9. Wilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level Index of: • Life expectancy • Math & Literacy • Infant mortality • Homicides • Imprisonment • Teenage births • Trust • Obesity • Mental illness – incl. drug & alcohol addiction • Social mobility www.equalitytrust.org.uk Health and social problems are worse in more unequal countries Indexofhealthandsocialproblems
    10. 10. www.equalitytrust.org.ukWilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level Neither health nor social problems are related to national income per head Index of: • Life expectancy • Math & Literacy • Infant mortality • Homicides • Imprisonment • Teenage births • Trust • Obesity • Mental illness – incl. drug & alcohol addiction • Social mobility Indexofhealthandsocialproblems
    11. 11. www.equalitytrust.org.ukWilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level Child well-being is better in more equal countries
    12. 12. www.equalitytrust.org.ukWilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level The UNICEF Index of Child Wellbeing is not related to National Income per head
    13. 13. Wilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level www.equalitytrust.org.uk People in more unequal countries trust each other less
    14. 14. Wilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level www.equalitytrust.org.uk People in more unequal states of the USA trust each other less
    15. 15. www.equalitytrust.org.ukWilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level Mental illness is more common in more unequal societies
    16. 16. 16 Infant Mortality Rates are Higher in More Unequal Countries Source: Wilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level (2009) www.equalitytrust.org.uk
    17. 17. 0 30 60 90 120 150 180 Income Inequality Homicidespermillionpeople Low High Daly M, Wilson M, Vasdev S. Income inequality and homicide rates in Canada and the United States. Can J Crim 2001; 43: 219-36. Homicide rates are higher in more unequal US states and Canadian provincesUSA states Canadian provinces
    18. 18. www.equalitytrust.org.ukWilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level Imprisonment rates are higher in more unequal countries
    19. 19. 19 Teenage Birth Rates are Higher in More Unequal Rich Countries Source: Wilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level (2009) www.equalitytrust.org.uk
    20. 20. www.equalitytrust.org.ukWilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level Social mobility is lower in more unequal countries
    21. 21. Social Relations • Child conflict • Homicide • Imprisonment • Social capital • Trust Bigger income gaps lead to deteriorations in:- Human Capital • Child wellbeing • High school drop outs • Math & literacy scores • Social mobility • Teenage births Health • Drug abuse • Infant mortality • Life expectancy • Mental illness • Obesity
    22. 22. Indicator International US 50 States Census GiniUN 20:20 OECD Gini r p r p r p Child wellbeing -071 <0.01 -0.68 0.01 - - Trust -0.66 <0.01 -0.66 0.03 -0.70 <0.01 Life expectancy -0.44 0.04 -0.27 0.24 -0.45 <0.01 Infant mortality 0.42 0.04 0.54 0.01 0.43 <0.01 Obesity 0.57 <0.01 0.41 0.06 0.47 <0.01 Mental illness 0.73 <0.01 0.32 0.30 0.18 0.12 Education score -0.45 0.04 -0.46 0.05 -0.47 .01 Teen birth rate 0.73 <0.01 0.64 <0.01 0.46 <0.01 Homicides 0.47 0.02 0.44 0.04 0.42 <0.01 Imprisonment 0.75 <0.01 0.51 0.02 0.48 <0.01 Social mobility 0.93 <0.01 0.83 <0.01 - - Index 0.87 <0.01 0.75 <0.01 0.59 <0.01 Correlations: different measures and settings
    23. 23. Zheng H. Social Science & Medicine 2012; 75: 36-45. Mortality:OddsRatio Lag time - Years Lag times: marginal impact of a 0.01-unit increase in the Gini on individual mortality risk over time
    24. 24. Kondo et al, BMJ, 2009; 339: b4471 Inequality and mortality over time: meta-analysis of multilevel cohort studies
    25. 25. Wilkinson & Pickett, The Spirit Level Index of: • Life expectancy • Math & Literacy • Infant mortality • Homicides • Imprisonment • Teenage births • Trust • Obesity • Mental illness – incl. drug & alcohol addiction • Social mobility www.equalitytrust.org.uk Health and social problems are worse in more unequal countries Indexofhealthandsocialproblems
    26. 26. 0 5 10 15 Single mothers Low High Father's occupational class Infantdeathsper1000 England & Wales Sweden Leon, D. A., D. Vagero, et al. (1992). "Social class differences in infant mortality in Sweden: comparison with England and Wales." Brit Med J 305(6855): 687-91. The benefits of greater equality are not confined to the poor but extend to all social classes Infant mortality by class: Sweden compared with England & Wales
    27. 27. 27 Literacy Scores of 16-25 year olds by Parents' Education -1.5 -1 -0.5 0 0.5 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Parents' Education (years) Literacyscore Sweden Canada United States Source: Willms JD. 1997. Data from OECD Programme for International Student Assessment.
    28. 28. More inequality • More superiority and inferiority • More status competition and consumerism • More status insecurity • More worry about how we are seen and judged • More “social evaluation anxiety” (threats to self-esteem & social status, fear of negative judgements Valued or Devalued?
    29. 29. Social Status and Friendship Opposite sides of the same coin: Social status (dominance hierarchies, pecking orders) are orderings based on power, coercion and privileged access to resources – regardless of the needs of others. Friendship, in contrast, is based on reciprocity, mutuality, social obligations, sharing and a recognition of each other’s needs.
    30. 30. Companion Spanish: Compañero; French: Copain from the Latin “Con” (with) and “Pan” (bread) - someone with whom you eat bread
    31. 31. 33 Psychosocial risk factors for ill health  Low social status  Weak social connections  Stress in early life (pre- and postnatally)
    32. 32. 0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 Other tasks Tasks with ‘social evaluative threat’ (uncontrollable) Cortisolresponse(effect size) Dickerson SS, Kemeny ME. Acute stressors and cortisol responses. Psychological Bulletin 2004; 130(3): 355-91. What kind of stressful tasks raise stress hormones most?
    33. 33. Loughnan S, et al. Economic Inequality is linked to biased Self enhancement increases in more unequal societies
    34. 34. Rising narcissism among American college students (meta-analysis of 85 samples 1979-2006) NarcissisticPersonalityInventory Twenge JM, Konrath S, Foster JD, Campbell WK, Bushman BJ. Egos inflating over time. J Personality 2008; 76(4): 875-901.
    35. 35. Mishel L, Sabadish N. Economic Policy Institute Brief #331. Washington, May 2012 Changing ratio of CEO pay to average pay of production & non-supervisory workers in top 350 US companies Between 1979-2007 the income of the:- Top 0.1% increased by 362% Top 1% increased by 156% Bottom 90% increased by17%
    36. 36. Rising income inequality in Britain 1979-2011Inequality (Gini) Cribb J, Joyce R, Phillips D. Living standards, poverty and inequality in the UK: 2012. Institute for Fiscal Studies, London 2012
    37. 37. What can be done? Taxes & benefits • Stop tax avoidance • End tax havens • Make taxation progressive again Income differences before tax • Stronger Trade Unions • Increase company democracy - employee ownership etc • Promote more directors from within companies Sustainability needs greater equality
    38. 38. 40 http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk For more information: … a book and a website…

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