One of the most intriguing and counter-intuitive insights of The Spirit Level was that inequality is not so good for the better off. While they suffer fewer health and social problems than the middle or poorer end of the income spectrum, as was reported recently in the FT they still suffer the anxiety of staying where they are in the social pecking order and having to pay to keep up appearances.
Although it may be hard to engage with the travails of the very comfortable, the stresses are real and they are often visited on their children. There is a regular diet of news stories about anxiety amongst the kids of the better off, the lengths they will go to in order to succeed or preserve self-esteem - and if they can't manage it, their parents will step in for them. This is not a healthy or pleasant way to live (literally) and it is unlikely to change unless inequality is reduced. We are storing up trouble for the future.
The good news is that by compressing inequality we can better address both the very real material privations of people in poverty while dampening down the stresses of those locked into a soulless and damaging struggle to stay at the top or get to the top of the pile. Inequality-reduction is a win-win situation and would smooth off the jagged edges of our harsh, economic and social terrain.
The new documentary The Divide (inspired by The Spirit Level) covers the stresses and strains of inequality, at all levels of society, in a fascinating and illuminating way. The Equality Trust is presenting a special, advance preview screening on Saturday 21st November to our registered supporters and local group activists. We invite everyone to join The Equality Trust and come along to see the film and hear about possible solutions to our inequality problem from leading expert, Professor Tony Atkinson who will be talking about his new book Inequality: What Can Be Done? There will also be the chance to put your questions to the film-makers, Professor Atkinson and the authors of The Spirit Level, Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson.
Bill Kerry, Supporters & Local Groups Manager
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