The Spirit Level, Sir Michael Marmot, the general wisdom of our times, all say, insist, that it is inequality that kills us all. A more unequal society has people living shorter, more foetid, lives. Thus we should reduce inequality in order to boost the health of the nation.
Well, it’s a plan, certainly, what we want to know is whether it’s a useful one. At which point we have this report from IPPR:
Austerity to blame for 130,000 ‘preventable’ UK deaths – report
What has happened?More than 130,000 deaths in the UK since 2012 could have been prevented if improvements in public health policy had not stalled as a direct result of austerity cuts, according to a hard-hitting analysis to be published this week.
The study by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) thinktank finds that, after two decades in which preventable diseases were reduced as a result of spending on better education and prevention, there has been a seven-year “perfect storm” in which state provision has been pared back because of budget cuts, while harmful behaviours among people of all ages have increased.
Had progress been maintained at pre-2013 rates, around 131,000 lives could have been saved, the IPPR concludes.
But here’s the problem. Over this very same time span inequality has been falling in the UK.
If it is inequality that murders us all in our beds then a fall in inequality must lead to a reduction in our corpses being found in the morning. If we do reduce inequality and yet the death rate increases then it’s not the inequality nor the increase in it causing the deaths, is it?
That is, reality is telling us that the Spirit Level, the general belief of our times, must be wrong. Falling inequality and a rising death rate just aren’t compatible with the claim that inequality causes the deaths. Beautiful theories and ugly facts again, eh?