The Impact of Inequality
How to Make Sick Societies Better
Publisher: New Press, New York, USA
Year Published: 2005
Resource Type: Book
Cx Number: CX8079
Abstract: As a social epidemiologist (an expert in public health) Wilkerson explains how social inequality is harmful to one's heath. He looks at this from two perspectives: socio-economic and phycho-social. In the former he finds that less money, in a society where wellbeing is equated with material gain, results in a poor quality of social relations contributing to higher rates of violence and lower rates of community involvement. In the latter the lack of social status, paucity of social contacts and friendships result in higher stress levels, increased emotional, mental health issues and a weakened immune system. The growing disparity between the rich and poor only reinforces the notion that where you live is what you are. A further point is that social inequality is also socially distancing-we tend to associate with people who are like us and ignore those we don't know. Wilkerson by drawing on the experiences of other communities notably Kerala in India shows how a state of social equality is reflected in longer life expectancy and strong collective relations. He argues that there is a possibility of change by adopting government policies such as a non-market approach to health and education that would improve social life and psychological well-being.