What’s the big deal about inequality?
The dramatic increase in inequality has had far-reaching effects for our society. It has worsened the health, housing, education and opportunities of many New Zealanders and affects everyone, including the wealthy.
There are twice as many children living in poverty now than there were 30 years ago. In 2013 285,000 or 27% of New Zealand children lived in poverty compared to 14% of children in 1982.
There are many more children suffering from third-world diseases such as rheumatic fever, and it is especially Pasifika and Maori children that are worst affected.
The rich-poor gap is playing on our minds. Mental health problems are more than twice as common in New Zealand than in other countries with less inequality.
We put twice as many people into prison as we did 30 years ago, even though crime rates have basically stayed the same.
Highly unequal countries have a “money-empathy gap” – the wealthy lose compassion for the less well-off, feel more deserving and self-interested.