Posted on | January 26, 2011 | 1 Comment
Social and economic inequity was a hot topic last week not only in publications such as The Economist but also in the Scientific American. While these two institutions do not hesitate to venture out of their area of expertise every once in a while, the impact of their coinciding articles is nevertheless surprising.
The Economist began with this chart noticing a clear link between the « misery index » (which adds up a country’s unemployment and inflation rates) and the overall happiness of the inhabitants in the country. The two variables seem closely related, despite a sometimes uneven distribution of countries in the chart.
The Scientific American then added more weight to the argument in this article which connected economic inequity with crime rates. Following the Tucson, AZ, shooting and the following call to tighten gun controls, the article was able to sum up the lack of correlation between gun ownership and the number of murders. However, it made obvious the close link between the uneven distribution of wealth and the number of murders and frankly asked the question: is socialism the best tool to counter violence?
Economic disparities may even be a cause of the subprime crisis! A University of Chicago professor contends that extending credit to poorer and poorer Americans had been made necessary in order to alleviate social tensions created by the abusive concentration of wealth amongst the richest percentile of the population, a concentration level unseen since… the Great Depression of 1929!
Finally, a last article in The Economist discussed the psychological and physiological impacts of social inequity. We learn that inequity is a factor in the increase of stress hormone levels and consequently plays an important role on our overall wellbeing.
In summary, these arguments remind us that beyond the creation of wealth, its redistribution in a fair manner to the best interest of the population as a whole yields unsuspected positive results on crime rates, health, and even the financial risks we will be ready to face in the future.