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Title: Income inequality and well-being in the United Kingdom
Author: Wilson, Lisa
ISNI:       0000 0004 6060 1617
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2016
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In Wilkinson and Pickett’ s (2009a) The Spirit Level it is argued that the negative effects of income inequality found for a wide range of social outcomes can be explained by the effects of social position on the social hierarchy, for which they argue relative income position provides an adequate proxy. It is argued however that, further research is required to verify (or contradict) Wilkinson and Pickett’ s (2009a) claims with regards the importance of relative income position in explaining the negative association between income inequality and a range of social outcomes. Thus in the context of a growing consensus that individual well-being outcomes are central in determining social progress, this study was designed to examine the relationship between relative income and a range of individual well-being outcomes, and the extent to which the relationship between these phenomena changes once material conditions are taken into account. Furthermore, in the context of Goldhorpe’ s (2010) criticisms of the treatment of social position by Wilkinson and Pickett as a one dimensional concept this study examines the total net effect of relative income, controlling for other aspects of social stratification. On the basis of a critical review of the literature on the meaning and measurement, well-being is conceptualised in the current study as a multidimensional concept. However, given the aim of the current study to assess the impact of relative income and other markers of social position for well-being in the context of the arguments made by Wilkinson and Pickett (2009a) the selection of dimensions was highly influenced by this. Consequently, this study focuses on the following dimensions of 2 well-being: health, mental health, social support, civic engagement, well-being at work and subjective well-being. The results show that relative income exerts only a weak to moderate impact across each of the dimensions. These effects are further weakened by the inclusion of material conditions, reflecting the importance of not neglecting differences in individual, material standards in seeking to understand differences in well-being outcomes. Furthermore, the results show that the effects of relative income are significantly weakened by the inclusion of other aspects of social stratification. Taken together these results point to the need for a focus on poverty, disadvantage and low material conditions in order to achieve the greatest improvements in wellbeing.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available