Happiness, Social Cohesion and Income Inequalities in Britain and Japan

  • Dimitris Ballas
  • Danny Dorling
  • Tomoki Nakaya
  • Helena Tunstall
  • Kazumasa Hanaoka
  • Tomoya Hanibuchi
Part of the Creative Economy book series (CRE)


The above quotation is from the popular book entitled “The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better”. This text describes the relationship between income distribution and well-being in affluent countries suggesting it is mediated through psychosocial pathways shaping the impacts of economic structure upon social relationships. In this model lower income inequality is seen to result in societies with more cohesion, greater trust and cooperation and lower social stress. Wilkinson and Pickett (2009) present evidence suggesting that social and economic policies affecting the income distribution of a society can make a huge difference to the psychosocial well-being of the whole populations of this society. For instance, according to the evidence used in this book if income inequality were halved in the UK then the murder rates in the country and obesity rates would also halve, mental illness could be reduced by two thirds, imprisonment could reduce by 80 %, teen births could reduce by 80 % and levels of trust could increase by 85 % (The Equality Trust 2011).


Income Inequality Income Distribution Social Cohesion Subjective Happiness British Household Panel Survey 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We are grateful to the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, the University of Sheffield and Ritsumeikan University for funding, supporting and hosting the research visits of the authors between Japan and Britain, which made the research reported in this chapter possible. We would also like to thank Dr Aya Abe for arranging and hosting seminar talks by Danny Dorling, Dimitris Ballas and Helena Tunstall at the Japanese National Institute of Population and Social Security Research in Tokyo and for her constructive comments on our research plans and ideas. We would also like to thank the attendants of research seminars in the Department of Geography at Sheffield University (on 27 January 2011), the Research Center for Disaster Mitigation of Cultural Heritage and Historic Cities at Ritsumeikan University (on 9 May 2011) and at the Japanese National Institute of Population and Social Security Research in Tokyo (on 10 May 2011) for their constructive comments and helpful suggestions and ideas. We would also like to acknowledge that the Family Resources Survey and Household Below Average Income microdata were made available through the UK Data Archive. The National Survey of Family Income and Expenditure microdata were made available through the Japanese Statistics Bureau.


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dimitris Ballas
    • 1
  • Danny Dorling
    • 2
  • Tomoki Nakaya
    • 3
  • Helena Tunstall
    • 4
  • Kazumasa Hanaoka
    • 5
  • Tomoya Hanibuchi
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK
  2. 2.School of Geography and EnvironmentUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  3. 3.Department of GeographyRitsumeikan UniversityKyotoJapan
  4. 4.School of GeosciencesUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK
  5. 5.Department of GeographyTohoku UniversitySendaiJapan
  6. 6.School of International Liberal StudiesChukyo UniversityNagoyaJapan

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