Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sam Pizzagatti: "Too Much, Newsweekly, 25 April 2011"

A quarter of British young people now 16 and under, UK officials announced last week, will reach age 100. But experts like geographer Danny Dorling are taking that prediction with a grain of salt. On life expectancy, Dorling points out, Britain currently ranks near the developed-nation bottom, right alongside the USA.

People just don’t lead shorter lives in Britain and the United States. They lead deeply unequal lives. No coincidence there. Decades of research have documented that people live longer, healthier lives in societies — like Sweden — that sport narrower gaps in income and wealth.

Swedish corporate leaders, ironically, are now trying to exploit those wider U.S. gaps. IKEA pays its factory workers in Sweden a minimum $19 an hour. In Virginia, IKEA workers doing the same exact work start at $8. IKEA looks on the United States, local union organizer Bill Street matter-of-factly observed earlier this month, “the way that most people in the U.S. look at Mexico.”

That perspective turns out to make complete statistical sense. The inequality gap between Sweden and the United States, new data show, now runs wider than the gap between the United States and Mexico. More in this week's Too Much.

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