There is growing recognition that there might be something to this principle. One significant observation from the recently released international assessment of student learning, PISA, is that countries that address social inequalities demonstrate better learning outcomes, while countries that ignore them remain stationary or begin to drop in the rankings.
As the PISA authors noted, poverty itself wasn’t the problem. A country could be rich or poor and do more or less well in the rankings. What mattered was the division of wealth in the society, and correspondingly, the sense that “we’re all in this together.” Even conservative authors, such as the National Post’s Jonathan Kay, are beginning to see this. He writes, “creeping income inequality is a menace to the economies and social fabric of western countries, and that some form of redistributionist policies eventually are going to be a necessary antidote.”