Greater equality and better health: Benefits are largest among the poor, but extend to nearly everyone

Author(s)/Editor(s): Pickett KE, Wilkinson R G
Publisher/Organizer: BMJ
Publication date: 2009
Language: English


“When the empirical evidence of the effects of inequality was confined to health, it was reasonable to think that we should not assume that inequality had any psychosocial effects before we eliminated other possible explanations. But since then the evidence base has grown. It is now clear that unequal societies have an increased prevalence of a host of social problems, including violence, bullying, teenage births, higher rates of imprisonment, low educational performance, reduced social mobility, low levels of trust, and longer working hours. Insofar as these are behavioural outcomes, they provide strong evidence that psychosocial processes are associated with inequality.

The benefits of greater equality tend to be largest among the poor but seem to extend to almost everyone.10 A more equal society might improve most people’s quality of life. Rather than merely paying lip service to creating a "classless society," it is a task for politicians and policy experts to repair our "broken society" by undoing the widening of inequalities that has taken place since the 1970s.”