Ground-breaking book shatters claims that income inequality doesn't matter

Posted on Sunday, 21 February 2010

A recently published book entitled The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better, has produced the evidence that will no longer allow anybody to legitimately claim that income inequality doesn't matter.

Written by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, this book addresses key issues concerning how inequality and/or income inequality cause the levels of health and other social indicators: levels of trust, mental illness, life expectancy, infant mortality, obesity, educational performance, teenage prgnancy, murder rates, imprisonment rates and social mobility. An excellent review article is available at the Citizen's Income Trust website and can be accessed here

Social Justsice Ireland is indebted to Citizen's Income UK for permission to reproduce this review article. The review article asks that we go deeper into the causes of inequality than the authors of this book have been able to do, but we can only applaud the book’s message: that inequality matters, why it occurs matters, the damage that it does matters, and so seeking greater equality matters.

There has often been an understandable worry that social policy designed to create a more equal society might make the economy less efficient.  However, a range of recent publications on social policy show that social protection measures don’t necessarily make an economy less efficient.

This book has important consequences also for the debate on the desirability and feasibility of a Basic Income system.  We no longer have to regard economic efficiency and greater social equality as mutually exclusive: indeed, we can regard them as complementary and as mutually reinforcing. A social policy which promotes both should therefore be particularly welcome.

Citizen’s Income UK promotes the introduction of a Basic Income in the UK. Social Justice Ireland argues that such a system is required if we are to have a 'fit for purpose' system in Ireland in this 21st century.