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Sir Michael Marmot's
IHE team

New York Times Article

24th January 2012 07:47

At Davos, a Big Issue Is the Have-Lots vs. the Have-Nots

Article in the New York Times by Eric Pfanner,


One recent study, by the London Health Observatory, showed a widening gap in male life expectancy between rich and poor parts of London. In the well-to-do area of Queen’s Gate, for example, it was 88; in Tottenham Green, near where riots that spread across large parts of London began last summer, male life expectancy was 71.

Such divides are not limited to the West. According to Gapminder, the average income in Shanghai, for example, is about 10 times the level in Guizhou, a less developed Chinese province. The difference in the infant mortality rate is even greater, with such deaths occurring less than one-twelfth as often in Shanghai.

To some extent, such differences have always existed between rich and poor. What is new, analysts say, is the extent to which they have risen in individual societies and the extent to which they are being passed from one generation to the next.

Some studies have shown declines in social mobility in the United States — where the idea that anyone could rise from humble roots was always a big part of the American dream — and in Britain, thwarting efforts to dismantle traditional class barriers.

“There’s a deep sense that, hang on a minute, why is this not working for us anymore?” said Michael Marmot, a University College London professor who is chairman of the Commission on Social Determinants of Health at the World Health Organization. “If there’s one thing we should all believe in, it is that every generation should have a fair chance, and that’s not happening.”

The full article is available on the New York Times website.