The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger

The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger


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The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger by Richard Wilkinson, Kate Pickett

Groundbreaking analysis showing that greater economic equality-not greater wealth-is the mark of the most successful societies, and offering new ways to achieve it.

"Get your hands on this book."-Bill Moyers

This groundbreaking book, based on thirty years' research, demonstrates that more unequal societies are bad for almost everyone within them-the well-off and the poor. The remarkable data the book lays out and the measures it uses are like a spirit level which we can hold up to compare different societies. The differences revealed, even between rich market democracies, are striking. Almost every modern social and environmental problem-ill health, lack of community life, violence, drugs, obesity, mental illness, long working hours, big prison populations-is more likely to occur in a less equal society. The book goes to the heart of the apparent contrast between material success and social failure in many modern national societies.

The Spirit Level does not simply provide a diagnosis of our ills, but provides invaluable instruction in shifting the balance from self-interested consumerism to a friendlier, more collaborative society. It shows a way out of the social and environmental problems which beset us, and opens up a major new approach to improving the real quality of life, not just for the poor but for everyone. It is, in its conclusion, an optimistic book, which should revitalize politics and provide a new way of thinking about how we organize human communities.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781608193417
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 04/26/2011
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 208,292
Product dimensions: 5.38(w) x 8.22(h) x 1.09(d)

About the Author

Richard Wilkinson has played a formative role in international research in inequalities in health and his work has been published in 10 languages. He studied economic history at the London School of Economics before training in epidemiology and is Professor Emeritus at the University of Nottingham Medical School and Honorary Professor at University College London.

Kate Pickett is a Professor of Epidemiology at the University of York and a former National Institute for Health Research Career Scientist. She is the co-founder of The Equality Trust. She studied physical anthropology at Cambridge, nutritional sciences at Cornell and epidemiology at Berkeley before spending four years as an Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago.

Table of Contents

Foreword Robert B. Reich ix

Preface xiii

Acknowledgements xvii

Note on Graphs xix

Part 1 Material Success, Social Failure

1 The end of an era 3

2 Poverty or inequality? 15

3 How inequality gets under the skin 31

Part 2 The Costs of Inequality

4 Community life and social relations 49

5 Mental health and drug use 63

6 Physical health and life expectancy 73

7 Obesity: wider income gaps, wider waists 89

8 Educational performance 103

9 Teenage births: recycling deprivation 119

10 Violence: gaining respect 129

11 Imprisonment and punishment 145

12 Social mobility: unequal opportunities 157

Part 3 A Better Society

13 Dysfunctional societies 173

14 Our social inheritance 197

15 Equality and sustainability 217

16 Building the future 235

Postscript - Research Meets Politics 273

The Equality Trust 299

Appendix 301

Sources of Data for the Indices of Health and Social Problems 306

Statistics 310

References 312

Index 343

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Spirit Level 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
EGHunter01 More than 1 year ago
A favorable review: insightful, informative, and educational. Quote from page 5: ".the truth is that both the broken society and the broken economy resulted from the growth of inequality." - taken from, The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger by Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett (2009). Here is part of a quote on page 18: ".modern societies are, despite their affluence, social failures." *This book encourages readers to ponder many of our societies "social ills." *Some of its focuses are on changing levels of mental illness {including drug & alcohol addiction}, life expectancy & infant mortality, obesity, teenage pregnancy & birth rates, homicides and imprisonment rates. *This book also encourages the reader to work toward viable solutions to change inequality in the individual societies and the global society. Here is a quote to consider from page 26: "The services are all expensive, and none of them is more than partially effective." *Some of the message of this book is: ".a country wants higher average levels of educational achievement among its school children, it must address the underlying inequality," and this is a similar message to Michelle Alexander's message in the book, New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness about the inequality of the criminal justice system. ***Inequality breeds mistrust. *This book and the one by Michelle Alexander are worth reading to be enlightened on these topics and consider viable solutions to improve our society and the world, and to consider how to tackle inequality.
Bill922 More than 1 year ago
Highly recommended for anyone who cares about humankind, and where our country and world are headed.
Mybookreview More than 1 year ago
Wilkinson and Pickett have pulled together a large body of research showing that income inequality is the foundation of a wide range of health and social problems. This is probably the number 1 factor that, if addressed, would create the equitable kind of world most of us want to live in. Income inequality is the issue that most needs to be solved. The authors display the information in easy to understand charts and describe the information in easily understandable, only mildy technical language. The solutions the authors propose are not as easy to understand nor to see how they might be implemented. I highly recommend this book.
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