Richard G. Wilkinson ist Eröffnungsredner 2017
Wenn die Schere zwischen Arm und Reich zusammengeht, Ressourcen und Teilhabe gerechter verteilt sind, dann hat das positive Auswirkungen auf die gesamte Gesellschaft. Diese These verfolgt der britische Gesundheitswissenschaftler Prof. Richard G. Wilkinson seit den 70er Jahren.
In seinem Buch „The Spirit Level“, das er zusammen mit der Gesundheitswissenschaftlerin und Epidemiologin Kate Pickett veröffentlichte, zeigt er auf, dass auch Gesundheit und Lebenserwartung unmittelbar von der Verteilungsgerechtigkeit einer Gesellschaft abhängen. Um auf die gesellschaftlichen Vorteile einer gerechten Ressourcenverteilung aufmerksam zu machen, rief er die Kampagne The Equality Trust mit ins Leben.
Wir freuen uns sehr, dass wir Richard G. Wilkinson als Eröffnungsredner auf dem Kongress Armut und Gesundheit 2017 begrüßen dürfen. In einem kurzen Interview in englischer Sprache gibt er uns einen Vorgeschmack auf seinen Vortrag und bezieht sich dabei auch auf das deutsche Präventionsgesetz.
Armut und Gesundheit (AuG): On 20th June 2016 at 10:23 a.m., we contacted you as the keynote speaker for the upcoming Poverty and Health Congress in Berlin, Germany. At 10:46 we received a positive answer from you, which we were really pleased about! What prompted you to get back to us so quickly?
Richard G. Wilkinson (RW): Since our book The Spirit Level came out in 2009, my co-author Kate Pickett and I have given a combined total of over 900 talks on our research on inequality. We get new invitations every day and important events like this are likely to get a quick ‘yes’, just as invitations to travel across the globe to speak briefly to small audiences get a quick ‘no’!
AuG: Your studies have had a major impact and provoked a great eagerness to debate in broad sections of science and of the population as well. You prove impressively that societies in which minor differences in income distribution prevail, display the greatest (life) satisfaction in the overall population. Could you briefly explain to readers who aren’t familiar with your work why that is the case?
RW: Inequality makes class and status more important and strengthens their influence on our lives. It increases our tendency to judge each other by indicators of status and our so, inevitably, our insecurities about how we are seen and judged by others. Inequality is socially divisive: it weakens community life, leads to lower levels of trust and to more violence.
AuG: In its 22nd year, the Poverty and Health Congress makes the connection between poverty and health a topic of discussion and thereby repeatedly deplores the fact that poverty provokes illness (and illness makes you poor). It also states that we cannot afford this as a society on the whole. How do you think these gaps between awareness of the connections and the increasingly dramatic effects can be closed?
RW: I think the key is to recognise that greater inequality damages the quality of life for all of us, not just the poor. By reducing the material inequalities between us we can improve the quality of social relations and the psychosocial wellbeing of the whole society. It is in all our interests.
AuG: How could a Preventive Health Care Act as enacted in Germany in 2015 contribute to the reduction of socially caused inequalities?
RW: While prevention is important, it is difficult to change health behavior without changing more fundamental aspects of people’s lives – if poverty and inequality are not reduced, you cannot stop them affecting people’s health. You have to tackle the fundamentals.
AuG: Could you give the congress participants a little taste of what to expect in your talk?
RW: I will share the evidence from research round the world which shows that reducing income differences is the key to improving the quality of life for the vast majority of the population.