The lottery of birth
The lottery of birth

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The lottery of birth

1.3.3 Thinking point: the spirit level hypothesis

Described image
Figure 16

The ‘spirit level hypothesis’ has been widely read and debated. For example, the UN report ‘Inequality Matters: Report on the World Social Situation 2013’, that you heard about earlier, acknowledges the validity of the ‘spirit level hypothesis’.

In the report you looked at earlier by the UN, ‘Inequality Matters: Report of the World Social Situation’, the view of American economist Joseph Stiglitz was included:

There is growing evidence and recognition of the powerful and corrosive effects of inequality on economic growth, poverty reduction, social and economic stability and socially-sustainable development … the many adverse consequences of inequality affect the well-being not only of those at the bottom of the income distribution, but also those at the top. Specifically, inequality leads to a less stable, less efficient economic system that stifles economic growth and the participation of all members of society in the labour market.

(Stiglitz, 2012)

Activity 1.5

There are arguments for and against the ‘spirit level hypothesis’. Find some coverage of the debate and summarise it, with a link to your source.

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