Richard Wilkinson opened his Ted talk with the chilling statement, “I think the intuition that inequality is divisive and socially corrosive has been around since before the French Revolution” (Wilkinson). With this opening, he states that his Income Inequality Hypothesis is not new, but the way we can evaluate the evidence has changed. Now, we can look at the evidence behind this hypothesis and directly see what inequality does to our society. Wilkinson explains these dangers in his Income Inequality Hypothesis. Wilkinson’s Income Inequality Hypothesis states that societies with more equal distributions of incomes have better health, fewer social problems, including drug abuse, mental illness, teenage pregnancy, and obesity, etc., and are more cohesive than countries with a wider gap between the rich and poor.
The differences in outcomes between more and less equal societies are huge and undeniable. Most of these problems are between countries with large income gaps, like the United States, Britain, and Portugal, compared to countries with smaller income gaps, like Japan, Switzerland, and Finland. Social problems and health problems get worse when there is more inequality within a society while conversely, social problems and health problems lessen when there is more equality within a society. Wilkinson’s Income Inequality Hypothesis evaluates how greater income inequality amplifies and intensifies the effects of social status differentiation that results in poor societal outcomes and poor health outcomes.
The relationship between societal inequality and social outcomes and health outcomes is not a new topic; however, the ability to analyze and test Wilkinson’s hypothesis has...
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...t urban cities in the United States, and especially in Chicago, these areas are racially diverse. This highlights the importance of recognizing racial identify as important as income equality when examining social and health outcomes in the United States.
Overall, Wilkinson’s Income Inequality Hypothesis has many strengths because of its credible author and comprehensive data review; however, there are still many challenges. Some of the relationships in the initial hypothesis were causal and it has been difficult to apply this hypothesis in highly racialized countries, like the Unites States, and more specifically in a city like Chicago. Further research should focus on race in addition to income inequality when studying social and health outcomes. When this research is done, then we can compare different nations to each other to achieve better outcomes for all.
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