In a new report – ‘OECD (2008), Growing Unequal? : Income Distribution and Poverty in OECD Countries’ – by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the UK has been found to have income inequality and poverty which is falling faster than any other OECD country.
Why is this interesting? Some people have plotted the prevalence of emotional distress present in the populations of different nations* against the income inequalities also present and found there to be a positive correlation between the two. The USA, which is a nation that has built its prosperity upon a high tolerance for inequality, is top of the pile, with both the greatest income inequality (ratio of top 20% vs bottom 20% of incomes) and highest presence of emotional distress; a more socially democratic nation like Germany has much lower levels of both inequality and emotional distress. So, if the UK is becoming less unequal, will we see an improvement in our levels of emotional distress the next time they are measured?
Alas it’s unlikely to be that simple. The causes for emotional distress are multi-factorial; two other possibilities for a nations’ distress are a lack of social mobility and highly invasive, dissatisfaction creating, advertising cultures. Indeed this latter influence has a name: ‘The Hello! magazine effect’, whereby despite being increasingly better off, people compare themselves with celebrities and celebrities wealthy chums and feel relatively impoverished as a result.
Talking of celebrities and their chums, reality Queen Kerry Katona was on This Morning this morning and caused a stir ‘looking distracted and at times confused, slurring her words and almost unable to string a cogent sentence together ‘. You can watch her here and here. She said that she was taking Chlorpromazine and this was the reason for her slurred speech. I can’t be bothered to write a full post about this, but she actually didn’t seem too bad to me. Perhaps I’ve spent too much time hanging out with crack addicts in Hackney.
What did anyone else think?
* The measurement of this sort of thing is open to some debate of course.
Links for OCED
Guardian article Wealth gap narrows faster in UK than other developing countries 21 October 2008
This is Oliver James’ hobby horse
Hello Magazine effect discussed on Today 0709 and 0816