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Fairness & Prosperity: equality makes sense

The TUC yesterday published a really good new pamphlet Fairness & Prosperity by Howard Reed. If you don’t have time to read The Spirit Level, this will take less than an hour to read. It explains, clearly and succinctly, why growing inequality, contrary to the conventional economist’s claim, is bad for the economy, and bad for people’s health and welfare. As the TUC put it:

The UK is a very unequal country, and this inequality is the result of a major shift in income distribution in the 1980s and 90s. There is a conventional economic view that asserts that inequality is a price a country has to pay to achieve economic success. But a comparison of the performance of equal and unequal countries does not back this up.

Indeed, there is evidence that some redistribution enhances economic performance. International comparisons provide very strong evidence that inequality is linked to poor health and social outcomes.

The theories to explain this relationship are still being developed. This pamphlet outlines two of these – that inequality has harmful psychological effects and that poor outcomes follow on from deprivation, which is more common in unequal societies.

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