In an earlier post we reviewed research by epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett showing that income inequality contributes to a whole host of negative outcomes, including higher rates of mental illness, drug use, obesity, infant death, imprisonment, and interpersonal trust.

In the four-minute video below, Kate Pickett argues that once societies develop the capacity to enable status-based consumption (as opposed to survival-oriented consumption),  status-consciousness among humans exacerbates inequality.  Meanwhile, being status-conscious in a highly unequal society creates stress, and all kinds of other negative outcomes, among those who are judged less-than.

See Dr. Pickett, also, on why raising the average national income in developed countries doesn’t make people happier or enable them to live longer. And see more about income inequality and national well-being at Equality Trust.

Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.