"…what we do in our book is take that scale of income differences and look to see how it affects a range of health and social problems in different societies. And we find that more unequal societies have lower levels of trust, higher levels of mental illness, worse physical health, more obesity, their children do less well in schools, there are more teenage births, more violence, and, as you just mentioned, a greater percentage of the population is in prison and social mobility is lower as well. So, everything seems to get worse in more unequal societies. There is general social dysfunction."
"Sweden has quite large income differences to start with and redistributes through taxes and benefits, whereas Japan has smaller income differences to start with. And that doesn’t seem to matter, it’s the level of equality they achieve that matters."
"So we don’t advocate any particular way of achieving greater equality. There are big state interventions that could work such as higher tax rates on higher incomes, or raising minimum wage levels. But there are sorts of small state solutions as well that are around institutions, how companies decide to set their salary structures. And it does seem that where there is more economic democracy, more employees on the board for instance, or promotions from within a company and more employees owning shares in a company, that income differences within those institutions are kept smaller. So, there are lots of different ways that greater equality can be achieved."
Income Inequality, Economic Gaps and Social Dysfunction interview with Kate Pickett (co-author of The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger) on everydaycitizen.com