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Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Equality is the new “big idea”

“Equality is better for everyone” is the “big idea” that has been sweeping through policy and political circles since the 2009 publication of the book The Spirit Level. The authors, Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson, are British health researchers who discovered that all the social and health measures they investigated are significantly better for everyone in societies that are the most equal.
Anti-social behaviour, crime, poor health, mental illness, lower life expectancy, child abuse, high imprisonment rates, high rates of infectious diseases; all these markers of a “broken society” and the “broken economy” are the results of the growth of inequality. Screeds of evidence from dozens of countries, particularly comparisons between the most equal rich countries (Japan, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark) and those that are least equal (USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand), show that people are happier, healthier and live longer in the countries with greater equality.
Not only that, but greater equality means less cultural pressure for the rampant and wasteful consumerism that is likely to push economic activity beyond the environmental limits of our ailing planet earth.
So better wages make better businesses; a more equal society is a healthier society; and the environmental threat we all face can be better tackled when we realise we are all (equally) on the same space-ship together.

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