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Inequality Today

By David Murray

On Saturday 23 November The Equality Trust (TET) held its first ‘Inequality Today’ event.

The event included some fantastic insights into the state of inequality in the UK in 2013, with presentations by Professors Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson (authors of ‘The Spirit Level’  as well as Professor Danny Dorling (author of ‘Injustice’).

The Spirit Level shows that countries with higher levels of inequality like the USA and UK have more murders, more obesity, lower social mobility and lower life expectancy. Whereas more equal societies enjoy better mental and physical health, a better chance in life regardless of background, a more stable economy and a fairer economy where rewards reflect talent and effort.

Kate Pickett discussed new research into the effects on economic inequality on health and social outcomes. She highlighted research that shows that people are happier in more equal societies and more agreeable in more equal US states. She also pointed towards the extraordinary rise in narcissism as a result of growing inequality. 96% of Americans think they are above average drivers, compared to just 66% of people in Sweden, a far more equal society. Kate also commented on the increasing number of economists now looking at the link between inequality and economic crises.

Richard Wilkinson continued this theme by mentioning the increased attention that inequality is now receiving, even from established central organisations. He mentioned that the EU, UN, WHO and ILO as well as many others had asked for talks on inequality. Richard also argued that the political pendulum in this country is swinging back towards a broader public and political concern with inequality. He argued, for example, that most people now accept their boss may earn more than them, but not hundreds of times more, as is often the case. Richard finished by calling for the extension of democracy into the economic life for example with representatives of all stakeholders on company boards.

And Danny Dorling delivered ‘Sandcastles in the Sky,’ a devastating presentation on the link between property and inequality. Danny noted that the UK now has the most unequal housing distribution on record, with the richest 10% having five times as many rooms per person as the poorest 10%. He also highlighted the huge increase in children in private rental homes in recent years, and the fact that many had found their families regularly moved on by landlords looking for higher rents, with severe consequences for those children being uprooted.

For further detail see: http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/news/inequality-today

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