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Introducing social work: a starter kit
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1.4 The gap between rich and poor

This is a photograph of a man standing outside a front door.
Figure 5

A person’s status in society is related to life chances, including their mental and physical health and life span. In less equal societies, several ‘social problems’ such as crime and large prison populations, violence, drug abuse, and obesity are more prevalent. In societies characterised by high levels of economic inequality, there is also a lack of community life and the absence of basic values such as trust. However, it is not only those at the bottom of the social scale that suffer as a result of inequality. Inequality impacts on the quality of life of everyone in society, even the rich:

We know that inequality affects so many outcomes, across so much of society … The transformation of our society is a project in which we all have a shared interest. Greater equality is the gateway to a society capable of improving the quality of life for all of us.

(Wilkinson and Pickett, 2010, p. 237)