Posted by: aboutalbion | March 19, 2013

Economic inequality: Pope Francis seems to get it …

Not only might the poor always be with us [see yesterday’s post], but so also might the extent of the inequality between the poor and the rich.

Kate Pickett, Professor of Epidemiology at York University, and her husband have made the study of inequality something of a special subject.  [Wilkinson and Pickett (2010) The Spirit Level: Why equality is better for everyone.  Penguin.]

Their conclusion is that “a bigger gap between rich and poor leads to more health problems through psycho-social pathways”.  This is a conclusion that specifically relates to an examination of (over-)developed nation states.  So, for example, in the terms of statistical expectation, in the UK “you can expect to live about eight years longer if you live in the wealthiest areas rather than in the poorest”.  Some might speculate that this conclusion also applies to large organizations, in that illness absence rates can sometimes be seen to increase as pay rates decrease.

They claim that their research shows that there is “a powerful tendency for more unequal societies to become socially dysfunctional.  …  There’s less trust and social cohesion in more unequal societies.  Economists and environmentalists are now showing that inequality is bad for economic growth and stability …”.

The first impressions of the new Pope seem to suggest that he understands that you don’t need to incentivize people with excessive financial rewards (including exemplary bonuses) in order for them to aspire to lead an international organization.

However, the passage of time might well lead me to a different conclusion …

[PS  I am aware that Pope Francis is marching to a different drum in relation to the subordinate position of women in official positions in the Roman Catholic Church.]



  1. I like the post. Even those of us on the “outside” are hoping for good things from this new leader.

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