Inequality, social and economic, has been pervasive throughout human history. However, it is only recently that the full extent of the detrimental effects of this social construct have been elucidated. There has been renewed interest in the concept amongst epidemiologists and statisticians which has produced a wealth of data, now amenable to critical analysis and interpretation. The most recent and currently influential publication regarding inequality ‘The Spirit level: why more equal societies almost always do better’ by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett has been chosen for review in this paper.
This paper aims to draw attention to the issue of inequality and the consequences that it has for the health of the population. It is designed as a succinct summary of pertinent data for the interested medical professional. It is to be emphasised that the content of this work is not polemical but is based upon empirical resources. Further, this paper attempts to justify the relevance of the issue of inequality to the medical community based upon its professional obligations and duties.
A key text regarding the effects of inequality has recently been published. ‘The Spirit level: why more equal societies almost always do better’ by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett was chosen as a key resource for this paper. This paper summarises the key findings of this report as well as subjecting the text to critical analysis. Furthermore, relevant sections of the Medical Peace Work Course were completed to gain knowledge of the subject.
Analysis of the text revealed that income inequality was indeed a key contributory factor to ill health, though other factors such as the material effects of poverty should not be underestimated. Further research is needed to elucidate which factor is more responsible for ill health.