The “American Dream” has picked up and relocated to Denmark, according to experts studying the effects of income inequality within the world’s wealthy nations.
Kate Pickett, Professor of Epidemiology, Department of Health Sciences, University of York, and Richard Wilkinson, Honorary Visiting Professor of Social Epidemiology, University of York, published a piece for the World Economic Forum showing a clear link between income inequality and social mobility — the latter of which is low in the U.S. — and reached an unfortunate conclusion: “You’re much more likely to achieve the 'American dream' if you live in Denmark.”
> Economists have argued that young people from low income families are less likely to investin their own human capital development (their education) in more unequal societies. Young people are more likely to drop out of high school in more unequal US states or to be NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) in more unequal rich countries. Average educational performance on maths and literacy tests is lower in more unequal countries.
> It isn’t that young people in unequal societies lack aspirations. In fact, they are more likely to aspire to success. The sad thing is they are less likely to achieve it.
> But the ways in which inequality hampers social mobility go far beyond educational involvement and attainment. In unequal societies, more parents will have mental illness or problems with drugs and alcohol. They will be more likely to be burdened by debt and long working hours, adding stress to family life. More young women will have babies as teenagers, more young men will be involved in violence.
The professors argued that changes to minimum wages, educational fixes and even focusing on poverty reduction in general are not enough to shift nations away from poor social mobility: “We need to tackle inequality itself, and that includes changing the culture of runaway salaries and bonuses at the top of the income distribution.”
> For a long time this has felt like an insurmountable challenge, but reducing inequality within and between all countries is now one of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to which the UK is a signatory.
Unicef recently reported that the United States ranks 37th out of 41 wealthy nations in meeting the SDGs for children.