The top 1 % of USA citizens control nearly 35% of the country’s wealth and 22% of American children live in poverty. President Obama calls income inequality a defining issue and Mitt Romney tells us that the nearly half of the US population who don’t make enough to pay income taxes are failing to take responsibility for themselves. Even without election season and a flurry of statistics to remind us, the vast majority of us realize that that the USA is a pretty unequal nation. It also should not be surprising that for much of recent human history, material wealth has not been equally divided amongst members of a society. But has it ever? Is inequality part of our evolutionary heritage?

Well, yes and no.

Read more at Psychology Today.

3 Comments

  • Clarence Williams says:

    NO!. For 1.7 million years or so, human ancestors where characterized by egalitarian groups. Only within the past 10,000 years have groups been characterized by differential resource acquisition. If you combine this with the fact that such complex behavioral predispositions involve numerous genes, you reach the conclusion that “social inequality” is NOT “in our nature.” Other mechanisms are driving such social inequality, and they are probably the result of cultural evolutionary forces.

  • Paul N. says:

    Of course, it is in our genes to avoid social conflict by inequity aversion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inequity_aversion), for instance. For that reason it took for so long before societies evolved in the last 10,000 years or so. It seems to be a paradox, but inequality among humans made them more equal when compared to other species on the planet. Read more about the fauceir view on inequality evolution in my blog entry some month ago (http://fauceir.wordpress.com/2011/01/10/religion-an-inequality/).

  • jukka akula says:

    “Does Our Evolutionary History Condemn Us to Social Inequality?”

    I would say it condemns us to equality.

    I mean even if it is good to make salaries to differ based on competence for efficiency reasons, even a homo economicus without any emotional inequality aversion should understand that inequality after certain level starts to decrease the company efficiency and the efficiency of the whole society.

    Carl Pearson once said a nation with big proletariat will fail in a competition with a nation with small proletariat.

    On the other living in a Scandinavian country country I would say enough is enough also when it comes to equality.

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