Richard Wilkinson on how inequality harms societies

VIDEO: This is Richard Wilkinson’s TED lecture. Richard is co-author of ‘The Spirit Level’, a book that has done so much to emphasise the cost, both social and financial, of inequality in our society. Inequality is divisive and socially corrosive and yet we have a political class that seem incapable, unwilling even, to address the problem.

As Richard points out, in terms of relative income it is the size of the gaps between us that is important. In Britain that gap is widening. Inequality is getting worse not better.

Interestingly, in countries with the most unequal societies, principally the USA and Britain, there are stirrings of discontent. With austerity and genuine hardship set to continue for some time, this discontent is going to increase. How long will it take for politicians to realise that current levels of inequality will no longer be tolerated? As practitioners of masterful inactivity, they’ll probably decide to do nothing and hope it all goes away. They may be in for a very rude shock.

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