Huge Human Inequality Study Hints Revolution is in Store for U.S.
Every society has a tipping point.
By Yasmin Tayag on November 15, 2017
https://www.inverse.com/article/38457-i ... revolution
There’s a common thread tying together the most disruptive revolutions of human history, and it has some scientists worried about the United States. In those revolutions, conflict largely boiled down to pervasive economic inequality. On Wednesday, a study in Nature, showing how and when those first divisions between rich and poor began, suggests not only that history has always repeated itself but also that it’s bound to do so again — and perhaps sooner than we think.
In the largest study of its kind, a team of scientists from Washington State University and 13 other institutions examined the factors leading to economic inequality throughout all of human history and noticed some worrying trends.
Coupled with what researchers already know about inequality leading to social instability, the study does not bode well for the state of the world today.
“We could be concerned in the United States, that if Ginis get too high, we could be inviting revolution, or we could be inviting state collapse. There’s only a few things that are going to decrease our Ginis dramatically,” said Tim Kohler, Ph.D., the study’s lead author and a professor of archaeology and evolutionary anthropology in a statement. Currently, the United States Gini score is around .81, one of the highest in the world, according to the 2016 Allianz Global Wealth Report.
Overall, the highest-ever historical Gini the researchers found was that of the ancient Old World (think Patrician Rome), which got a score of .59. While the degrees of inequality experienced by historical societies are quite high, the researchers note, they’re nowhere near as high as the Gini scores we’re seeing now.
Historically, Kohler says in his statement, there’s only so much inequality a society can sustain before it reaches a tipping point. Among the many known effects of inequality on a society are social unrest, a decrease in health, increased violence, and decreased solidarity. Unfortunately, Kohler points out, humans have never been especially good at decreasing inequality peacefully — historically, the only effective methods for doing so are plague, massive warfare, or revolution.