‪‎Health‬ and social problems are worse in more unequal societies, even among the better off– not just for the poor

Although the impact of inequality‬ tends to be most severe lower down the social ladder, outcomes are worse even among the better off, because inequality damages the whole social fabric of a society – increasing social divisions, status insecurity and status competition. Indeed, it is because a large majority of the population – not just the poor‬ – are affected by inequality that the differences in the performance of more and less equal societies are so large. Kate Pickett (University of York) shows that the scale of the differences varies from one health or social problem to another, but they are all between twice as common and ten times as common in more unequal societies compared to more equal ones.
There is also substantial evidence linking greater equality to better social relationships within societies –levels of social cohesion, including trust and social capital, are higher in more equal countries. Indicators of ‪‎women‬’s status and equality are generally better and rates of both property, crime‬ and ‪‎violence‬, especially homicides, increase as income differences widen.
Prioritising the need to tackle inequality in this way will ensure that economic and development strategies are truly inclusive and can drive human progress towards sustainability and wellbeing.
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