Does Greater Equality Make Societies Stronger?

BY Paul Solman  February 9, 2012 at 3:50 PM EST

Spirit Level - Richard Wilkinson
Graphic by the PBS NewsHour, based on the cover of “The Spirit Level.”

Paul Solman frequently answers questions from the NewsHour audience on business and economic news on his Making Sen$e page. Here’s Thursday’s query:

John Naghshineh: Mr. Solman, could you please talk to Richard Wilkinson or Kate Pickett about income inequality? They wrote the book, “The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger.” According to them, social mobility tends to be stronger in more equal societies, which contradicts Richard Epstein’s views about inequality being an incentive for growth. They also show greater equality correlates with higher life Making Sense
expectancy rates, lower crime rates, fewer dropouts, teenage births, educational outcomes and much more. You can guess how the United States fares on these charts up against other economically advanced nations. Their research couldn’t be more relevant to our times!

Paul Solman: But we did. We’ve run two segments from our interview with Richard Wilkinson:


Inequality Hurts: The Unhealthy Side Effects of Economic Disparity


In Ohio, How Two Counties’ Economic Paths Diverged Over 30 Years


This entry is cross-posted on the Making Sen$e page, where correspondent Paul Solman answers your economic and business questions