Emergent patterns in nature and society

Inequality and the biosphere

Soon I will be coming back to Stockholm to think about inequality and the biosphere with a group of young scholars. Here are some random notes that I want to keep in mind for the meeting. Abigail Sewell reviews the book The Dead Gap by David Ansell and writes in Nature today:

“There is a 35-year difference in life expectancy between the richest US neighbourhoods and the most deprived.”

There are links between inequality and health, education, and in general life satisfaction. If you are more likely to die because of inequality, why would you care for the biosphere if society don’t care about yourself?

The Death Gap presents a Marxian view of inequality as a societal disease that in turn produces biological disease, dispersed differentially across the sociopolitical hierarchy. Although he is a physician, Ansell uses metaphorical language that may stump readers in biomedical fields. Moving beyond epidemiological frameworks that model what would happen to an individual exposed to a single causal factor, Ansell weaves a much more complicated story, in which structures of disadvantage affect every step of the process of survival. The Death Gap provides an overarching framework for understanding the root cause of ethno-racial and economic disparities in illness that seamlessly weaves together the very best research in epidemiology, public health, medical sociology, health policy and psychology.



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