Greater equality: the hidden key to better health and higher scores Essay (Critical Writing)
Main arguments of the authors
In their article, “Greater equality: the hidden key to better health and higher scores”, Wilkinson and Picket (2011) argue that equality in terms of income levels among the population is more important to better higher life expectancy and that the more egalitarian a society is, the healthier its population tends to be.
We also need to note that these arguments have also been supported by a lot of studies that have sought to compare states within the united sates, different countries and different regions. The authors have further observed that countries with higher income inequalities have been shown to report more social and health problems compared to their counterparts with less income inequalities.
The author has given the scenario of child A, born in the United States where the government’s budget on health care accounts for almost 50 percent of the total global health budget, but there are very high income inequalities (Wilkinson & Picket 2011). Child A is then compared with child B, born in Greece where the cost per an individual on healthcare is less than half the amount spent in the United States.
However, the income inequalities in Greece are minimal, and as a result, child B has a higher likelihood of not falling victim to child mortality compared to child A. The study involved the collection of data on various social problems including level of trust, obesity, teenage births, mental illness, homicides, social mobility, and imprisonments rates.
The results of the study revealed that all these social and health problems were common in each US states, as well as in all the countries that were surveyed by the study. Also, the results demonstrated an increase in the Index of Health and Social Problems score as the levels of inequality increased (Wilkinson & Picket 2011).
Thus, countries with higher income inequality also suffer from more common social and health problems (Denisenko 2008). Inequality, as opposed to the average living standard, is related to the prevalence of poor social problems and poor health in the rich countries (World Health Organization 2010). Research shows that solidarity, community and social cohesion are important for the well-being of the human race (Jordal 2010).
The authors have also demonstrated that as income inequalities in the United States continue to increase, so does the public expenditure on prisons. The results of the study further show that if we can reduce inequality in the society, then our quality of life and well-being will also increase.
Identifying the explicit theory used in the paper and any implicit approach that the author(s) might have
The authors have fully and clearly demonstrated that if at all we intend to enjoy better health and longer lives, then we must ensure that we must pursue greater equality (Prochorov et al 2007). We must also make sure that the gap between the rich and the poor has been reduced as much as possible so that we can all enjoy the benefits associated with increased equality, such as reduced social and health problems.
For example, in a society whereby there is a big gap between those who are rich and those who are poor materially, we are likely to witness more crimes, more teenage pregnancies, reduced level of trust and increased cases of obesity, compared to a society in which almost everyone is equal.
As such, it would make little sense to sill from someone who has material possessions similar to yours. In addition, for those countries whereby there is still a wide disparity between those who are rich and those who are poor, crime levels are also higher, resulting in more imprisonments (Ivanova 2009). As a result, the government ends up spending more on the prisons department, more than even on say, education.
On the other hand, there is a deeper meaning to the arguments of the authors on the issue of social equality, in that individuals within the society view variations in the standards of living as a pointer to the existing differences in social statuses. For instance, we are less likely to befriend individuals who are poorer or richer than us.
The position that we occupy in the social hierarchy affects those whom we feel belong to our group and those who should not and this also affects our ability to recognize and identify with with other individuals. In this regard, inequality, whether we are talking about material inequality or, otherwise, act as a social divider.
The authors are also trying to demonstrate that great inequality greatly damages societies so that the levels of trust reduce as the levels of inequality among members of a society increases. This is a further indication that social and political stability in the society cannot be achieved as long as there is great inequality among the individuals in the society.
In an attempt to indicate that greater equality is indeed the hidden key to higher scores and better health, the authors have compared the income inequality with the health and social problems commonly reported by a number of rich countries. The comparison reveals that as the levels of income increases, the social and health problems increase as well.
Further, the authors have demonstrated that there is only a weak relationship between on the one hand, an increase in the national incomes of rich countries and on the other hand, the social and health problems normally experienced by individuals in such countries.
On the whole, the rates of imprisonment, crime rates and teenage pregnancies increase with an increase in the levels of inequality within the society.
The authors argue that avoiding high inequality should be a priority for governments because it could mean the difference between low public expenditure and taxation and high public expenditure and taxation. Otherwise, we risk being faced with increased drug abuse, the need for more prisons, more police, and increased rates of mental illness.
Concerns on the use of theories, reliability and validity of the information in the article
The use of theories by the authors appears to be adequate. In addition, they have provided clear and understandable examples that everyone can be able to identify with. The theories have also been explained in a clear and coherent manner, and scenarios provided in order to bring the intended meaning home further.
The information used by the authors is also reliable because they have obtained it from such reputable sources as the World Health Organization, the World Bank, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the United Nations. With regard to the validity of the evidence base, it is important to note that the arguments presented by the authors in the article are well founded and the authors have also backed their claims using evidence from credible sources in literature.
Denisenko, M., 2008. Living standards, social inequality and human development. Human development. New dimension of social and economic progress. Moscow: United Nations Development Programme.
Ivanova, A., 2009. Mortality and life expectancy in Russia. Demographic policy in Russia: from reflection to action Moscow: United Nations Development.
Jordal, J., 2010. Economic inequality causes social problems. Web.
Prochorov, B. et al, 2007. Public health and economy. Moscow: MAKS Press.
Wilkinson, R. and Picket, K., 2011. Greater equality: the hidden key to better health and higher scores. Web.
World Health Organization, 2010. Environment and health risks: a review of the influence and effects of social inequalities. Web.
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