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The Spirit Level New Edition: Why Equality Is Better For Everyone Paperback – Dec 14 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin UK (Dec 14 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241954290
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241954294
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.5 x 19.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #128,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

“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 text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Richard Wilkinson has played a formative role in international research 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 National Institute for Health Research Career Scientist. 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. Her work, with Richard Wilkinson, on The Spirit Level was shortlisted for Research Project of the Year 2009 by the Times Higher Education Supplement, and their book was chosen as one of the Top Ten Books of the Decade, by the New Statesman.

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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 Susan Rosenthal on Sept. 3 2013
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If a book's value can be measured by its ability to antagonize right-wing `think-tanks,' then this book is priceless.

The Spirit Level challenges everything we've been told about why people get sick and what it takes to be healthy.

While public campaigns lecture us to eat right, stop smoking, exercise more, etc., in fact, our well-being has very little to do with our individual choices and everything to do with how society is structured. Put simply, inequality is extremely bad for our health.

The United States ranks as the world's most unequal nation, far outstripping all other nations. The top one percent of Americans have a combined net worth that is more than triple the net worth of the other 99 percent combined. And the bottom 40 percent of Americans own less than nothing, because they are sinking in debt.(1)

Wilkinson and Pickett compare income inequality within 23 of the world's richest nations and all fifty US states. They found that, at every income level, people living in more unequal nations and states suffer:

*lower life expectancy
*higher infant mortality
*more homicides
*more anxiety
*more mental illness
* more drug and alcohol addiction
* more obesity
* higher rates of imprisonment
* less social mobility
* more teen pregnancies
* more high-school dropouts
* poorer school performance
* more school-age bullying

And the extent to which people at every income level suffer these problems is directly related to how unequal is the society in which they live.

In contrast, people living in more equal societies and states enjoy better mental, physical and social health - at every income level.
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I read this book after seeing a TED talk on the subject. This was very eye-opening for me in terms of how I view social ills and what causes them. After reading books like Freakonomics, the presentation in this book registered well with me. Wilkinson and Pickette present a researched-backed view of social inequality and the issues it causes. They repeatedly defend this conclusion from many angles, so that it's hard not to understand.

Societies like that in Denmark, Norway, Japan, while different, are in such a contrast to those of the US and UK that I have a hard time not moving to Copenhagen immediately. The visual representation in rates of violence, mental illness, voter turnout, perception of fear, education results, childhood mortality, among countless other variables, are plotted against socially-equal vs. socially-unequal countries (and also the same spectrum of states in the US for a deeper dive). The results are consistent across the board, with social ills increasing as social inequality increases. Being from Canada, at least we're in the middle of the group.

So when I consider some policies in the US which ingrain poverty, and also the coddling of the wealthiest, I understand that the ills that come with that, and the societal danger are not mutually exclusive. I'd recommend the accompanying equalitytrust.org.uk website with the videos and research presented there as well. We can get to a better society worldwide, and understanding this material can surely help with that.
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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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"The Spirit Level" assembles most, if not all, the most significant trends in social science over the past several decades. The fact that the authors are medical professionals seems to account for the strained, repetitious narrative. The graphs alone speak volumes. Wilkinson (an uncharismatic public speaker, to say the least) denies that inequality constitutes a "theory of everything," but this book suggests otherwise. The psychological and political implications of the content, in particular, deserve further study.
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