In The Spirit Level, by Wilkinson and Pickett, we are told that inequality is the source of most social ills. So much so that a more unequal society raises murder rates, makes even the rich die younger and ....well, you get the picture.
This is shown by lots of comparisons a cross countries, more equal places have better results by certain measures, more unequal worse and so on. It is, of course, a great big steaming pile of foetid dingoes' kidneys, as Chris Snowdon has memorably proven. But now comes another little blow to the thesis.
Japan is one of those places which they claim is more equal. So much so that quite a number of their projections are anchored by the Japanese result. At which point:
Their plight is a rarely seen consequence of Japan’s struggle to steer its economy out of the doldrums after more than two decades of stagnation and deflation. Four years after Shinzo Abe became prime minister for a second time, campaigners say the rise in poverty is evidence that his grand plan for growth – known as Abenomics – has failed to deliver for many families.
Japan now has some of the worst wealth inequality and highest rates of child poverty in the developed world, according to a Unicef report released in April that ranked Japan 34th out of 41 industrialised countries.
Japan isn't all that equal and therefore their assignment to the more equal class must be called into question.
Or, of course, perhaps it has only just become more unequal - in which case they must all be dying younger, there are more murders and so on because inequality is the cause of these things, no?
In the absence of the evidence that those social indicators are going the wrong way we'd be back where Mr. Snowdon says we are, wouldn't we - foetid dingoes' kidneys?