Income inequality does more than create gaping class divisions — it can also impact your life expectancy. Results from studies conducted over the last 35 years have shown that people from countries with greater economic disparity — like the U.S. — have higher mortality rates than those from nations with lower income disparity. This is true whether individuals themselves are wealthy or poor.
Why is this and what does it mean? There are no known truths as to why this may be, but there are hypotheses. One theory is that Americans are more likely to give into societal pressures including wanting to buy bigger or to always commit to everything, rather than just concentrating on fulfilling their own needs.
So just how do we compare to other nations? According to Gini, the mathematical model used to measure income inequality, at a rate of 85.1%, the U.S. is the most unequal of other advanced economies (on a scale of 1-100 percent, the highest percentage on the scale indicates the greatest income inequality). Our closest allies in this category are Indonesia at 82.8% and South Africa at 83.6%, with Russia and the Ukraine leading the pack at, 93.1% and 90.0%, respectively.
America’s current economic system has resulted in the richest 1% of the U.S. population gleaning the most benefits, further contributing to even greater income inequality between the top 10% of earners and the rest of the population.
While we’re not the worst we certainly have a lot of work ahead of us. As a developed nation with an advanced economy it’s important we regain a more viable status so we can once again become a model for our international peers. It’ll be important to see what our next administration has in store to achieve greater equilibrium and demote such vast disparity.