People who think capitalism is fair are less likely to be bothered by poverty

By Arianne Cohen

Recent research on inequality has spoken, and it’s not good: Inequity is causing disastrous social problems across America. A trio of studies evaluate inequality from different perspectives, all with devastating findings:

    America ranks among most “problem-ridden” countries. A study comparing countries based on social problems ranked the U.S. 38th of 40 countries, between Latvia and Uruguay, just above Trinidad and Tobago. (The best-scoring countries were Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.) Researchers considered the social problems of short life expectancy, infant mortality, obesity health issues, homicides, teen pregnancy, and prison rates, and found that big income gaps between rich and poor correlate with those problems.

    Think capitalism is fair? Then you are likely not bothered by poverty. A study from New York University found that those who believe that the economic system is fair are less bothered by seeing the disturbing signs of inequality, such as a homeless person sleeping on an outdoor grate or someone lacking basic healthcare or education access. “Beliefs that legitimize and justify the economic system buffer us against negative emotions in response to it,” says lead author, psychologist Shahrzad Goudarzi.

    Poor Americans spend one third of their income on healthcare. These expenditures alone cause substantial poverty. The new figures from the RAND Corporation show that middle-income Americans spend just under a quarter of their earnings on healthcare, while families in the top quintile spend 16% of their incomes on healthcare. On average, Americans spend $9,393 per person per year.

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