We hear a lot these days about income inequality, particularly with the OWS movement in the news, and spreading across the US and the world. But, so what? We also hear that the rich are getting richer because they earn it. They are the engine that drives the economy. They are the job creators. They need to earn the big bucks otherwise there will be nothing to trickle down to the rest of us.
But what is the price we pay, as a society, for allowing this income inequality to exist and, in fact, grow at an alarming rate?
The Equality Trust takes a look at the impact of income and wealth inequality around the world. Here are the highlights of their findings.
- People in more equal societies live longer, a smaller proportion of children die in infancy and self-rated health is better.
- People in more equal societies are far less likely to experience mental illness.
- People in more equal societies are less likely to use illegal drugs.
- Children do better at school in more equal societies.
- Unequal societies are harsher, they imprison a higher proportion of people.
- Obesity is less common in more equal societies.
- There is more social mobility in more equal societies.
- Communities are more cohesive and people trust each other more in more equal societies.
- Homicide rates are lower and children experience less violence in more equal societies.
- Teenage motherhood is less common in more equal societies.
- Unicef measures of child well-being are better in more equal societies.
- Further economic growth will not improve our health or well-being. For a better quality of life we need greater income equality.
- More equal societies spend a higher proportion their income on overseas aid and perform better on the Global Peace Index.
- Inequality fuels status competition, individualism and consumerism. It makes it harder to gain public support for policies to reduce global warming.
- Murder rates could halve
- Mental illness could reduce by two thirds
- Obesity could halve
- Imprisonment could reduce by 80%
- Teen births could reduce by 80%
- Levels of trust could increase by 85%
So, what world do you want to live in?