Monday, October 24, 2011

"If Americans want to live the American dream they should move to Denmark!"

Richard Wilkinson: How economic inequality harms societies

Richard WilkinsonIn "The Spirit Level," Richard Wilkinson charts data that proves societies that are more equal are healthier, happier societies. Full bio and more links 
"We feel instinctively that societies with huge income gaps are somehow going wrong. Richard Wilkinson charts the hard data on economic inequality, and shows what gets worse when rich and poor are too far apart: real effects on health, lifespan, even such basic values as trust."

This is clearly something worthy of thinking about, especially given the huge inequality of incomes in the United States which is growing rather than shrinking.

On the other hand, Wilkinson's talk depends on correlations and there are some things one should always look for in conclusions based on correlations, such as is there a hidden underlying variable that influences both of the correlated variables.

One notes that many of the societies that have both more equal distributions of income and many good outcomes on measures of societal success are in smaller countries, with highly educated people which have more homogeneous populations (or which have more successfully integrated immigrants into their societies). Could it be that smarter societies that see all their members as part of the same "tribe" may find better ways to reduce income inequalities and better ways to allocate social services including health services?

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