Learning from other countries

Learning from other countries

Equality and social outcomes

The Spirit Level shows that for each of eleven different health and social problems (physical health, mental health, drug abuse, education, imprisonment, obesity, social mobility, trust and community life, violence, teenage pregnancies, and child well-being), outcomes are significantly worse in more unequal rich countries than in less unequal countries. The UK, with its higher-than-average level of economic inequality compared to most other rich countries, has corresponding worse social outcomes. According to this analysis, if the UK was to reduce its level of economic inequality to that of Sweden, for example, it would perform much better on a range of issues such as life expectancy, imprisonment, mental illness and social mobility.

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According to the Equality Trust, the UK has a very unequal distribution of income compared to other developed countries, with a Gini coefficient of 0.35. According to 2013 data from 19 OECD member states in the Luxembourg Income Study data set, the UK is the fifth most unequal, and fourth most unequal in Europe. The richest 20% are around seven times richer than the poorest 20% in the UK, whereas this ratio is under 4:1 in more equal countries like Japan, Finland, Norway and Sweden.