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The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger Hardcover – Dec 22 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 330 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Pub Plc USA (Dec 22 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608190366
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608190362
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.2 x 3.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #256,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"A important book ... [Wilkinson and Pickett] argue that gross inequality tears at the human psyche, creating anxiety, distrust and an array of mental and physical ailments — and they cite mountains of data to support their argument."—Nicholas Kristof, New York Times

“Wilkinson and Pickett make an eloquent case that the income gap between a nation's richest and poorest is the most powerful indicator of a functioning and healthy society…Felicitous prose and fascinating findings make this essential reading.”

Publishers Weekly (starred)

 

“In this fascinating sociological study, the authors do an excellent job of presenting the research, analyzing nuances, and offering policy suggestions for creating more equal and sustainable societies. For all readers, specialized or not, with an interest in understanding the dynamics today between economic and social conditions.”—Library Journal


The Spirit Level will change the way you think about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, especially if you live in the United States. You will reexamine what it means to be successful, how you will seek and achieve personal satisfaction, and what you owe your fellow citizen.”—Jo Perry, BookBrowse.com

 

“It has taken two experts from the field of public health to deliver a major study of the effects of inequality on society. Though Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett are British, their research explores the United States in depth, and their work is an important contribution to the debate our country needs.”—Robert B. Reich, from the foreword


“Might be the most important book of the year.”—Guardian

“Fascinating and deeply provoking…The Spirit Level does contain a powerful political message. It is impossible to read it and not to be impressed by how often greater equality appears to be the answer, whatever happens to be the question. It provides a connection between what otherwise look like disparate social problems.”—David Runciman, London Review of Books

“This is a book with a big idea, big enough to change political thinking … In half a page [The Spirit Level] tells you more about the pain of inequality than any play or novel could.”—John Carey, Sunday Times

“Epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett don’t soft-soap their message. It is brave to write a book arguing that economies should stop growing when millions of jobs are being lost … we know there is something going wrong, and this book goes a long way towards explaining why … anyone who believes that society is the result of what we do, rather than who we are, should read The Spirit Level because of its unarguable battery of evidence, and because its conclusion is simple: we do better when we’re equal.”—Lynsey Hanley, Guardian

“A crucial contribution to the ideological argument. [The Spirit Level] demonstrates the scientific truth of the assertion that social democrats have made for a hundred years – sometimes more out of hope than intellectual certainty … Equality is not just a policy for the poor; it benefits us all and, therefore, should appeal to us all … The importance of The Spirit Level is that it provides a vital part of the intellectual manifesto on which the battle for a better society can be fought.”—Roy Hattersley, New Statesman

“The connection [between income inequality and dysfunctional societies] is spelt out with stark clarity in Wilkinson and Pickett’s remarkable new book. Income inequality, they show beyond any doubt, is not just bad for those at the bottom but for everyone.” —Will Hutton, Observer

“Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett put forward compelling evidence that income inequalities are at the root of a wide range of health and social problems in society.”—Niall Crowley, Irish Times Weekend Review

“Wilkinson and Pickett make a powerful argument as they pile on the charts linking inequality and society’s problems.”—Brian Clegg, BBC Focus

“[That Inequality causes social ills] is a sweeping claim, yet the evidence, here painstakingly marshaled, is hard to dispute.”—Economist

“The Spirit Level reconciles the contradictory impulses the financial crisis creates [and] marshals voluminous evidence.”—Guardian

“Many readers will be inspired as I am by a new book, The Spirit Level … Wilson and Pickett compare not only different countries, but also the 50 US states. They show that greater equality benefits not just the poor, but all occupational groups. [The Spirit Level has] lots of graphs but no jargon.”—Peter Wilby, New Statesman

“[Wilkinson and Pickett] argue that, among the rich countries of the world, states with less inequality in incomes perform better on a wide range of indicators … The argument is a powerful counter to any simple equation of social progress and the advance of GDP.”—John Kay, Financial Times

“A spruce, straightforward writing style is periodically illustrated with clear, easy-to-grasp graphs, presenting information from a wide array of sources … it is fascinating.”—Stephen Price, Sunday Business Post Agenda

“Compelling and shocking.  All free marketers should be made to memorize it from cover to cover.”—Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Independent

About the Author

Richard Wilkinson has played a formative role in international research on inequality, and his work has been published in ten languages. He is professor emeritus at the University of Nottingham Medical School.
 
Kate Pickett is a senior lecturer at the University of York and a National Institute for Health Research Career Scientist. They live in North Yorkshire, England.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Denis Pinsonnault on May 15 2010
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This book is very well documented. It allows us to get informed about the consequences of choices we collectively made for decades. At the same time, it shows us that health problems in America are not only medical problems that could be solved by an extended medicare system.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jeanne Caswell on April 2 2013
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This is a book that every citizen should read. The "look out for yourself" attitude ultimately hurts all of us, and this book provides the data to prove it. It is unfortunate that inequality is increasing in our society.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By RondoReader on Jan. 4 2011
Format: Paperback
One does not have to google too deep to be convinced the authors; Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, are active advocates for progressive causes so the uneasy feeling that the evidence presented in their book was sifted and selected to suit the author's preconceptions should not cause much surprise. Indeed, by the end of the book the authors have cast aside any pretence of being disinterested researchers. This is not to suggest their effort should be written off as political rhetoric, just that a grain or two of salt may be called for.

The bulk of the book is devoted to examining, one by one, various social ills and demonstrating they are correlated, in rich societies at least, to the degree of income inequality within the society. The greater the inequality; the worse off the society, regardless of its overall wealth. This explains, for example, why the USA, one of the world's wealthiest countries, has higher levels of mental illness, lower life expectancies and so on, than poorer countries in which income is distributed more equally than in the U.S. The results are consistent both in comparisons between selected rich countries and in comparisons between the U.S. individual states. The data presented is extensive and well documented.

It is easy to concur with the authors. After all, isn't it obvious that taking inequality to the extreme by limiting all income to one or a few individuals would be disastrous? And too, we have the example of the odious income of Wall Street bankers which has had less than ideal results. Still, some of the correlations cited are more difficult to accept as causal than others. For example, call it a gut feel but it seems likely something more than just income inequality is needed to explain high rates of obesity.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ronald W. Maron TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 2 2011
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DIAGNOSIS.......I do have to applaud the authors, Wilkinson and Pickett, for their inclusive research into this topic. While the numerous charts, graphs and descriptions do become somewhat repetitive at times, the message, itself, is very clear; Only in equality based societies can we experience a political and economic standard that views all persons as being deserving. In societies that have vast differences in wealth between those in the upper 10% income brackets vs. those in the lower 10% (such as the U.S.) the social ills are many times greater than in the equality based societies (Scandinavia). Teenage pregnancies, life expectancies, general health care, incarceration rates, acts of violence, prejudices and racism, etc... are all glaring examples of excess in the unequally based social structures.

PROGNOSIS......I do have to fully disagree with the author's and their solutions on how to reverse this decadent trend. They speak of the overall history of mankind as having evolved from cave-man status, past slavery and into greater and more equal civil rights and, by doing so, imply that we shall evolve past our unequal status into one that is more congenial for all involved. Unfortunately what the authors fail to take into account is that not all societies evolve. Some simply decay and die. If upward social evolution were always the case we would all be still under the control of the Roman Empire! No, there are numerous cultures and societies that have reached an apex and then failed from their internal workings. They no longer considered what was best for society as a whole but, rather, what was best for the controlling elite and what steps they needed to take to increase both their monies and overall power and social control.
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This analysis of income inequality and its effects on societies worldwide is compelling. If politicians do not heed the conclusions, humanity will suffer.
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