Richard Wikinson studied economic history and the philosophy of science at the London School of Economics before training in epidemiology. His research drew attention to widening social class differences in death rates, and led him to ask the UK Secretary of State for Social Services to set up an “urgent government inquiry” into how these health inequalities could be reduced. The result was the UK Government’s Black Report (1980) which stimulated research on health inequalities internationally. Since then Richard has played a formative role in international research on the social determinants of health and on the societal effects of income inequality. His books and papers have drawn attention to the tendency for societies with bigger income differences between rich and poor to have a higher prevalence of a wide range of health and social problems. Two of his books have been the subject of documentary films – one called The Great Levellerfor the Channel 4 Equinox series broadcast in prime time in 1996 and another, called The Divide, released April 2016.
Richard is now Professor Emeritus of Social Epidemiology at the University of Nottingham Medical School, Honorary Professor at University College London and Visiting Professor at the University of York. He wrote The Spirit Level with Kate Pickett, a best seller now available in 24 languages. It won the 2011 Political Studies Association Publication of the Year Award and the 2010 Bristol Festival of Ideas Prize. He co-founded The Equality Trust (with support from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust). In 2013 Richard received Solidar’s Silver Rose Award and received Community Access Unlimited’s ‘Humanitarian of the Year’ Award. In 2014 the Irish Cancer Society awarded him the Charles Cully Memorial medal.
In the last few years he has given many hundreds of conference addresses and media interviews round the world, including at WHO, the EU, OECD and the World Bank.