Arguments for equality
The London Sustainable Development Commission has published a fascinating report: "The impact of income inequalities on sustainable development in London".
It's online here.
The Commission had planned a big launch for the report but its conclusions don't fit the politics of the current Mayor of London so it has just been quietly put on a website.
Some key snippets that the research reveals:
- The creation of a more cohesive and less unequal society will not only make it easier to reduce carbon emissions but will also tend to improve health and wellbeing
- People Are More Likely To Trust Each Other In More Equal Societies
- Child Wellbeing is Better in More Equal Societies
- Illicit Drug Use is Less Common in More Equal Societies
- The Teenage Birth Rate is Lower in More Equal Societies
- Mental Illness is Less Common in More Equal Societies
- Obesity Rates Are Lower in More Equal Societies
- Fewer People Are Imprisoned in More Equal Societies
- Health and social problems are worse in more unequal societies
- Health and social problems in London are closely related to deprivation
- More equal countries recycle a higher proportion of waste materials
- More Equal Countries Produce Less CO2 per $100 of Income
- Death rates of working age men and women are lower in more equal cities
"The strong implication of the evidence we have seen is that reducing income differences would reduce the prevalence of a wide range of social problems. We have no precise basis on which to estimate the likely scale of the benefits. Although London is a large city, it is not a whole country, and may not behave like one. But if the international relationships provide any guide to how London might benefit from greater equality then these can be used to make a very rough guide to the scale of the possible benefits:
"As well as helping to reduce consumerism,strengthening community life and enabling societies to respond more cohesively to crises, evidence shows that greater equality also leads people to treat environmental issues more seriously. Because community life is stronger and people trust each other more in more equal societies, they also seem to be more public spirited and more willing to work together towards shared objectives. The conflict between self and society is perhaps less stark and people are more likely to do things they feel are for the public benefit. Support for environmental policies is a sensitive indicator of the balance between feeling that life is about the pursuit of selfinterests in opposition to the wider society, and the pursuit of common interests."
"The high rates of many social problems in London, and Britain more widely, are directly attributable to the scale of inequality and would be reduced if inequality was decreased. If inequality was reduced simply to the average of other rich developed market societies it would dramatically reduce the burden of a wide range of health and social problems including violence, mental illness, teenage births, drug abuse, mistrust and obesity. At the same time we would enjoy a more cohesive society with stronger community life. If inequality was reduced further, to levels as low as those enjoyed by Japan, Sweden, Norway and Finland, our society would be transformed. And it would be transformed not just for the poor, but for the vast majority of the population."