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Health, Science

Dear Seven Billionth Child: How you can make the world a better place

Millennium Development Goal #4 - reduce child mortalityDear Seven Billionth Child,

You are being born into an unfair world.

Health, happiness and fulfilment are possible, but throughout your life you must strive to do one thing: seek equality.

My advice is from a political ideology. It is not from an inner moral conviction. It is from cold, hard facts.

If you are born into a wealthy country you may not experience a long life, satisfaction and the closeness of your relationships you will long far. These things will not come from wealth. They will come from a fair society…

Should you happen to be born in Singapore, USA or Portugal – then I fear the odds of reaching your potential may be stacked against you – although I hope this isn’t the case. Your country (and the UK is included) have the greatest difference between rich and poor. The unfortunate have eight times less that the rich. Yes, you may be fortunate to grow up in a developed country with technology, infrastructure and social welfare; however, you are being birthed into a society abundant in mistrust, mental illness and homicide.

day 289/365My child, you are truly blessed if you are Japanese or Scandinavian. Around you the rich and the poor are more equal – top earners earn only three times more than the poor. The community you will live in will be one of less crime, higher academic literacy and greater social mobility. You are lucky – so think big, for there is every chance you can fulfil your dreams.

The correlations are clear. The associations are undeniable and inescapable. So please do your best – strive for fairness, strive for equality and stand up against injustice. As you grown up, you needn’t join a political party. When you take a wage, you needn’t petition fairer taxes – although it might help. Japan has low taxes, Sweden has high – and both enjoy the fruits of fairness.

Should your generation achieve greater equality than the world you are born into – then everyone stands to benefit. Rates of teenage pregnancy, imprisonment and obesity will decline. You and your family will live in safety and have a sense of security.

But should you fail, or should you have no inclination to make a change – all is not lost. Perchance you be born in the ‘Land of the Free’, there is still a simple solution for you and your family: pack your bags and emigrate to Denmark.

I fear our generation has let you down. It will soon be down to you.

Good luck.


Find out more:

Richard WIlkinson: How economic inequality harms society (video – 16 mins)


Wilkinson RG. Unhealthy societies: the afflictions of inequality. New York (NY): Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group; 1996.

Wilkinson, R., & Pickett, K. (2006). Income inequality and population health: A review and explanation of the evidence Social Science & Medicine, 62 (7), 1768-1784 DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2005.08.036

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About Stuart Farrimond

I love writing about science and health subjects. Strange, because I also teach the same things. I trained as a medical doctor before turning my hand to other things. Shortlisted for The Guardian/Observer for Science Writer of the Year 2011 and editor for Guru Magazine I also like to grow large pumpkins...


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