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Thursday, 22 March 2018

Equality, happiness and health

Recently, the 2018 World Happiness Report was published as a collaboration by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network and economists from Columbia University, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and the London School of Economics.

The top 10 was once again dominated by Nordic countries: (1) Finland, (2) Norway, (3) Denmark, (4) Iceland, (5) Switzerland, (6) the Netherlands, (7) Canada, (8) New Zealand, (9) Sweden and (10) Australia. NYT, 14 March 2018: "Though in a different order, this is the same top 10 as last year, when Norway was No. 1 and Finland was fifth."

NYT, 14 March 2018: "As for the United States, it is 18th out of 156 countries surveyed — down four spots from last year’s report and five from 2016’s, and substantially below most comparably wealthy nations. Though the economy is generally strong and per capita income is high, it ranks poorly on social measures: Life expectancy has declined, suicide rates have risen, the opioid crisis has worsened, inequality has grown and confidence in government has fallen."

NYT, 14 March 2018: “I think there really is a deep and very unsettling signal coming through that U.S. society is in many ways under profound stress, even though the economy by traditional measures is doing fine,” Jeffrey D. Sachs, an editor of the report, said in an interview on Tuesday. “The trends are not good, and the comparative position of the U.S. relative to other high-income countries is nothing short of alarming.”

The NYT article and a recent Big Think article on equality, anxiety and depression, made me reflect on the relationship between equality, happiness and health.

I amended my diagram from my March 1 blog about cohesive societies to visualize these links. The USA is clearly in the lower regions of my diagram.

Last Monday, the 45th President suggested a death penalty for drug dealers in the US opioid epidemic (eg, FT, Guardian). In Europe, we would treat this as a health(care) rather than a criminal problem.

The US health and healthcare crisis can neither be understood nor repaired without looking at its fundamental economic and social inequality.

Going To A Town (2007) by Rufus Wainwright

I really need to know
I may just never see you again, or might as well
You took advantage of a world that loved you well
I'm going to a town that has already been burnt down
I'm so tired of you, America


Note: all bold and italic markings by LO unless stated otherwise

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