Wilkinson’s Theory of Income Inequality

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) came up with the most commonly used definition for health, which has not changed for over 60 years. They say that it is ‘’a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’’ (WHO, 1948), therefore meaning there are many more things to consider with health other than just death rates. Inequality is known as the instance or condition of being unequal (Anon., 2003), therefore saying that inequality is when there are differences and when this is linked with the worldwide financial crisis, ‘it draws great attention to the world of the super-rich and the increases in inequality since 1980, which is returning the country back to a degree of inequality which was last seen around 1929 or maybe even 1913’ (Morrill, 2008). This demonstrates that inequality has been an increasing problem, but should this inequality affect us and affect us in the terms of health disparity? This is what Wilkinson tries to understand with his theory of income inequality, and thereby hopes to give an explanation to why health differences occur (Rowlingson, 2011). This says that ‘it is not the richest countries that have the greatest health, but it is the most egalitarian societies that are healthier and have a smaller disparity in health’ (Wilkinson, 1996). In this essay the Wilkinson Theory is going to be discussed in depth in order to help explain what psycho-social pathways are and why they affect health on a national level. A brief history of health inequality is that Edwin Chadwick published his understanding of health inequality in the first report on it called the ‘General report on the sanitary conditions of the labouring population of Great Britain’ in 1842... ... middle of paper ... ...heorell et al., 1998. Decision latitude, job strain and myocardial infractions: a study of working men in Stockholm. Am J Public Health, Volume 88, pp. 382-388. WHO, 1948. Official Records of the World Health Organization. 7 April, Volume 2, p. 100. Wilkinson, R., 1996. Unhealthy societies: The afflictions of inequality. London: Routledge. Wilkinson, R., 1998. Mortality and distribution of income. Low relative income affects mortality. British Medical Journa, Volume 316, pp. 1611-1612. Wilkinson, R., 2005. The Impact of Inequality. Abingdon: Routledge. Wilkinson, R. & Pickett, K., 2009. The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better. London: Penguin. Woolf, S. & Braveman, P., 2011. ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: Where Health Disparities Begin: The Role Of Social And Economic Determinants—And Why Current Policies May Make Matters Worse. Health Aff, 30(10).

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