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Wealth and Health in the United Kingdom . Dr John Bone University of Aberdeen. Wealth, Health & Poverty. UK: Wealthier & Healthier?. In general: As a society’s wealth (Gross Domestic Product) increases so does health. But:

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wealth and health in the united kingdom

Wealth and Health in the United Kingdom

Dr John Bone

University of Aberdeen


UK: Wealthier & Healthier?

In general: As a society’s wealth (Gross Domestic Product) increases so does health.


OECD (advanced) economies: ‘Increases in these societies wealth have less effect on health outcomes (mortality and morbidity rates) than does the promotion of income equality within the society’

Source:Wilkinson in Gordon ‘Inequalities in health’

inequality in the uk the 19 th century
Inequality in the UK: The 19th Century
  • Two nations between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are ignorant of each other's habits, thoughts and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones or inhabitants of different planets; who are formed by different breeding, are fed by different food, are ordered by different manners, and are not governed by the same laws ... THE RICH AND THE POOR. (Disraeli, 1845)
  • Large proportion of the population experience long hours, hazardous and insecure work - overcrowded, squalid and (relatively) expensive housing – poor health, disease and low life expectancy.

Between Factory & Landlord:Inequality in the Industrial City, Late 19th and Early 20th C.

  • Social Strife:
  • Trade Unionism
  • Rent Strikes (UK: 80-90% rent privately)
  • Reform:
  • Workplace Legislation
  • Housing Reform
  • The ‘Hungry Thirties’ & WWII

Social Inequality: Mid 20th Century

  • The ‘Post War Settlement’:
  • The ‘Job for Life’
  • The Welfare State (NHS)
  • Building Programme of Social and Owner Occupied Housing
  • ‘You’ve Never Had It So Good’ (Harold Macmillan, British Prime Minister, 1951)

UK Economic Development

  • Laissez Faire (dominant until late 19th early 20th C.)
  • Collective Consumption (Castells – Late 19th C. until 1970’s)
  • Embedded Liberalism (Ruggie/Harvey – from WWII until 1970’s)
  • Neo-liberalism (1970’s until the present?)
an anatomy of economic inequality in the uk nip hills 2010
An Anatomy of Economic Inequality in the UK (NIP/Hills,2010)
  • ‘Britain is an unequal country, more so than many other industrialised countries and more so than it was a generation ago’.

Health & Wealth: UK Inequalities in Premature MortalitySource: Dorling (2010)

Geographical Inequalities in premature mortality (SMR<65) 1921-2006

the spirit level wilkinson pickett 2009
The Spirit Level (Wilkinson & Pickett, 2009)
  • Physical Ill Health
  • Mental Ill Health
  • Drug Abuse
  • Educational Problems
  • Imprisonment
  • Violence
  • Teenage Pregnancy
  • Childhood Problems
  • Trust & Community
  • Social Mobility*

‘The evidence shows that almost all the problems that occur most often in the poorest neighbourhoods – including those that make us a broken society – are systematically more common in more unequal societies. Rates are not just a little higher, but between two and eight times higher. Wider income gaps make societies socially dysfunctional across the board (Wilkinson and Pickett, 2009).

outcomes scotland
Outcomes: Scotland?
  • Life Expectancy (Male)
  • Gaza Strip: 70
  • Iraq: 68
  • United Kingdom: 75.9
  • Lenzie, Glasgow: 82
  • Calton, Glasgow: 54
why does inequality have these effects
Why Does Inequality Have These Effects?
  • Social & Health Problems:
  • Strain Theory (Merton)
  • American Dream Theory (Messner & Rosenfeld)
  • Stress

Where Do We Go From Here?

  • Globalization & The ‘Brazilianization of the West’? (Beck)