I just got this notice about a CDC presentation on how inequality/equality shapes major aspects of every society:
The Division of Violence Prevention and the CDC/ATSDR Social Determinants of Health Equity Work Group invite you to attend a presentation: “The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger” by Richard Wilkinson Emeritus Professor of Social Epidemiology, University of Nottingham and Kate Pickett, Professor of Epidemiology, University of York (Tuesday, January 5th – 9:30-10:30AM, Chamblee 106, 1A-B).
The summary of their presentation is suggestive of deep structural issues:
Among high income countries, comparisons of life expectancy, mental health, levels of violence, teen birth rates, child wellbeing, obesity rates, the educational performance of school children, or the strength of community life tend to be fairly consistent: countries which tend to do well on one of these measures tend to do well on all of them and countries which do badly on one, tend to do badly on all. What accounts for the difference? The key is the amount of inequality in each society. The picture is consistent whether we compare rich countries or the 50 states of the USA. The more unequal a society, the more ill health and social problems it has. This presentation will provide an overview of the theory and evidence for how income inequality affects well-being and examples of strategies that are being adopted based on these research findings.
Richard Wilkinson has a recent book, written with Kate Pickett, called The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better (2009). He is also a founder of The Equality Trust “to increase public understanding of the damaging effects on societies of large inequalities in income and wealth (www.equalitytrust.org.uk).”
One review of The Spirit Level on Amazon notes that in the book:
Wilkinson and Pickett lay bare the contradiction between material success and social failure in today’s world, but they do not simply provide a diagnosis of our woes. They offer readers a way toward a new political outlook, shifting from self-interested consumerism to a friendlier, more sustainable society. The Spirit Level is pioneering in its research, powerful in its revelations, and inspiring in its conclusion: Armed with this new understanding of why communities prosper, we have the tools to revitalize our politics and help all our fellow citizens, from the bottom of the ladder to the top.
Moving to class, racial, and gender equality means moving to healthier societies.