When you hear ‘inequality’, do you first think about the relative differences between the West and the Developing World, or do you think about the differences between those living in your own country, or even within your own community?
In this TED Talk, Richard Wilkinson presents some of his research data from The Spirit Level, in which he shows that health and social problems are worse in those countries in which income inequality is largest. This is interesting because we may have thought these problems were worse in those countries with lower national average incomes. The data seem to tell us something different.
This first chart shows an index of various measures of health and social wellbeing against income equality; there is a significant correlation.
Whereas when the same index is plotted against gross national average income there is no discernable pattern or relationship.
Of course correlation does not necessarily mean causation; though there is something relatively intuitive about this that tells us life is better in a more equal society.