Understanding economic inequality
Understanding economic inequality

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Understanding economic inequality

5.2 Inequality and economic success

Economic growth is not the only way to assess society’s wellbeing. There are other important factors relating to the quality of life, happiness, public health and safety (recall the contribution of Amartya Sen in Activity 3). Many economists and other social scientists have argued that income inequality affects these aspects of economic success. Complete Activity 13 to learn how.

Activity 13 Inequality and society

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes

Watch a presentation by Professor Richard Wilkinson about the social costs of inequality and answer the questions below.

How economic inequality harms societies [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

What is the difference between life expectancy and income in local neighbourhoods in England and Wales?

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Answer

The poorer the neighbourhood, the lower life expectancy.

Name five indicators of health and social problems mentioned by Professor Wilkinson which inequality is likely to exacerbate.

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Answer

Worse child wellbeing, life expectancy, mental illness, social distrust, infant mortality, homicides, imprisonment, obesity and lower social mobility.

Why does Professor Wilkinson say that Americans chasing the American Dream should go to Denmark?

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Answer

This is because social mobility is lower in the USA than in the more egalitarian Denmark. This means that rich parents are more likely to have rich children, while children of poorer parents are more likely to stay poorer. The American Dream is an idea that everyone has the same opportunities to climb up the social ladder – but evidence shows that this is more likely to be the case not in the USA but in Denmark.

DD126_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371