Intended for healthcare professionals


Immorality of inaction on inequality

BMJ 2017; 356 doi: (Published 08 February 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;356:j556
  1. Kate E Pickett, professor of epidemiology,
  2. Richard G Wilkinson, honorary visiting professor
  1. Department of Health Sciences, University of York, York, UK
  2. Correspondence to: K E Pickett

Our collective failure to reverse inequality is at the heart of a global malaise

Each year, at its meeting in Davos, the World Economic Forum produces a report on global risks, highlighting the biggest challenges the world is facing and the connections between them. Inequality entered the list of global risks in 2012, and in 2017 rising income and wealth disparity ranked as the most important trend likely to determine development across the world over the next decade.1 Oxfam also issues reports on inequality at Davos—in 2014 shocking the world with its estimate that the 85 richest people in the world owned as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion; this year reporting that just eight men own the same wealth as the poorest half of the world.23

During the 20th century inequality in most rich countries fell almost continuously from the 1930s to the 1970s and then increased dramatically from the 1980s with the dominance of neoliberal …

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