Fairer taxation to curb inequality and boost health

A century’s research has shown that inequality in society makes everyone less healthy, including rich people. Despite this, almost nothing has been done to address the problem (see Nature 592, 674–680; 2021). Inequality increases every year in most nations, and affects every aspect of our lives.

Early-twentieth-century biocultural anthropologists found that average height reflects the “material and moral conditions of that society” (J. M. Tanner Acta Paediatr. Jpn 29, 96–103; 1987). My own research has found that more income equality predicts greater average height (and, by extension, better health) for women and men. Having more money has a small effect on height but there is no association with national gross domestic product (B. Bogin et al. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 29, e22980; 2017).

When I talk to politicians about the suffering that inequality creates for all citizens, especially poor people, they say it’s complicated. No, it is clear. To tackle inequality, we must encourage partnerships with groups that advocate on behalf of marginalized people. We must elect decision makers who will ensure that the super-rich pay their fair share in taxes, who will impose fairer corporate taxes and who will use the money to benefit the most deprived 20% of the population.

Nature 594, 495 (2021)

doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-021-01698-1

Competing Interests

The author declares no competing interests.


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