The Spirit Level

By Richard Wilkinson, Kate Pickett,

Book cover of The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger

Book description

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…

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Why read it?

3 authors picked The Spirit Level as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

The British epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett have an American doctor friend who has a fascinating exercise for his first-year medical school students.

This doctor asks his students to write a speech detailing why the USA has the world’s best health. The students eagerly set about collecting all the relevant data and quickly find themselves absolutely shocked. Among major developed nations, the USA turns out to have the worst health.

Americans also turn out to be up to ten times more likely than people in other developed nations to get murdered or become drug addicts. What’s going on here?…

This book is a mandatory reading for anyone who wants to understand the social problems inequality creates. 

Picket and Wilkinson use descriptive statistics to show how more unequal societies tend to be more violent, less trustful, less educated, and suffer from other social ills. They demonstrate that inequality does not only affect the poor but everyone in society.

Comparing the US or the UK (two of the most unequal countries within the OECD) with Sweden, Japan, or Finland is particularly striking. The book proposes an agenda for change to make our societies more just and more sustainable at the same…

If you’d asked me before 2009 to make a list of social issues, I would have probably included poverty or deprivation rather than inequality. The Spirit Level changed my understanding. Wilkinson and Pickett show how people of any income, education, or class are healthier if they live in a more equal society. They are epidemiologists, and track the growth and impacts of inequality across time with the methodical attention to detail applied to monitoring the spread of an epidemic. They show how inequality not only makes people miserable (even if they are rich!) but also how it breaks the social…

From Keith's list on how community can save society.

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