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The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone

The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone [Kindle Edition]

Kate Pickett , Richard Wilkinson
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (221 customer reviews)

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Product Description


'This is a book with a big idea, big enough to change political thinking' -- John Carey, Sunday Times

'what might be the most important book of the year' -- John Grace, Guardian


'This is a book with a big idea, big enough to change political thinking'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 5172 KB
  • Print Length: 370 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (4 Nov 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (221 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #10,514 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More 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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
71 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Equality is better than wealth 22 Mar 2009
This is a great book. The fact that many poor outcomes are linked with poverty is well known. What the authors point out is that there is strong evidence showing that the level of poverty is much less important than the level of inequality in a society. Inequality causes health and social problems to people at the bottom but also at the top of the spectrum. So inequality is a lose lose situation.
I've read many science books recently. This is the best book I've read in many respects. It is very well written, very well documented, it deals with possibly the most serious political issue of our time, it is never patronising to the reader, and finally I was impressed by its scope: evidence comes from epidemiology, psychology, economics, sociology and more.
We should really send a copy of this book to each and every politician in the country. In recent times politicians have become obsessed with wealth creation. But wealth is a means not an end, and they are missing the forest for the trees.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inequality- as bad for the rich as for the poor 23 July 2009
By Dr. Peter Davies TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I welcome this book. It is a superb summary of the problems that inequality actually creates. Inequality issues are often presented as being about the poor, but this book shows that we are all poorer for living in more unequal societies. Inequality is as bad for the rich as it is for the poor. Society is poorer as inequality becomes greater.

The impacts of inequality show up in poorer health, lower educational attainment, higher crime rates, lower social capital, lower trust, lower co-operation the more unequal the society becomes. Wilkinson and Pickett give us clear evidence for these statements.

For the last twelve years we have endured in the UK a Labour government that preaches equality (then wonders "equality of what?") whilst actually presiding over increasing inequality and reducing social mobility.

Wilkinson and Pickett present their evidence well, in summary and clearly. I have the benefit of having been reading the research work on inequalities over several years so I recognised their evidence. If you need further evidence then you could follow the references, or read some of Wilkinson's The Impact of Inequality: How to Make Sick Societies Healthierearlier works, or Michael Marmot's useful book, "Status Syndrome." Status Syndrome: How Your Social Standing Directly Affects Your HealthTheir presentation of evidence is strong, and it is difficult after seeing their evidence to argue in favour of greater inequality at all.

Inequality is clearly a bad thing for a society, and its constituent individuals. The question comes about what to do about it, and how best to reduce it.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
By Jezza
...which should be required reading for every politician and policy-maker. Equality works - the evidence is overwhelming. Inequality doesn't work - it doesn't deliver a cohesive society or a sustainable economy or even economic performance as any sensible person would measure it.

At first the book is a bit tiring as it grinds through the evidence for this, but it does make the slightly more analytical section later on seem more grounded.

Fascinating to see that Cuba is literally the only country in the world to deliver high levels of human wellbeing at low levels of environmental impact; whatever we think of its shortcomings, and there are many, the place needs to be nurtured and treasured like a rare plant which contains a precious medicine -- not blockaded and bullied into adopting 'free market' solutions. Interesting to see too how well Japan does on so many indices - why do our politicians spend so much time learning from the US and so little from anywhere else?

Weak on actual remedies and policies that will help us to move in the right direction but still a brilliant read.
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180 of 207 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inequality is the root of all evil. 1 Feb 2010
By Moontrane TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett have written a remarkable, meticulously researched book which argues convincingly that inequality is the root cause of many of society's ills. A mass of evidence is marshalled to demonstrate that levels of violent crime, mental illness, drug addiction, illiteracy, obesity etc. are almost always higher in more unequal societies and that even the affluent are adversely affected by inequality.
The UK is near the top of the income gap league with twice as much inequality as Scandinavia & Japan and consequently experiences more social problems. Chosen as a 'Top 10 Book' of the decade by New Statesman magazine, 'The Spirit Level' is an important, thought-provoking book and should be compulsory reading for ministers in the Con-Dem coalition government who profess concern about 'Broken Britain'. The recent riots in England(August 2011) make this an even more essential read.

P.S. The updated paperback edition(November,2010) includes a new chapter giving the authors' well-argued response to strident political attacks on the book from the free-market right.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
By Mark Pack TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Although first published under a Labour government in 2009, this book is still highly relevant now we have a Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition. In fact, it is even more relevant because the current political and economic circumstances are forcing politicians to think carefully about how much we are worried about inequality of outcome. Wilkinson and Pickett argue that widespread inequality helps increase a huge range of social ills, with the result that everyone suffers - even the most well off. Inequality in their view isn't just bad for the poor, it's also bad for the rich.

Analysing data primarily from 21 developed countries and also the different American states, they present evidence of a correlation between the level of inequality in each country (or state) and a range of outcomes: levels of trust, mental illness, life expectancy, infant mortality, obesity, children's educational performance, number of teenage births, murders, imprisonment rates and social mobility. More inequality goes with lower trust, more mental illness, higher murder rates and so on.

Within a particular society being richer may go with the problem being smaller for yourself, but across the society as a whole it is the level of inequality that, they say, determines the overall levels of the problem.

The authors therefore argue that rather than securing further economic growth, inequality is now the big challenge facing developed societies: "When the wolf was never far from the door, good times were times of plenty. But for the vast majority of people in affluent countries the difficulties of life are no longer about filling our stomachs, having clear water and keeping warm. Most of us now wish we could eat less rather than more.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fantastic book, would definately recommend.
Published 1 day ago by bridchris1950
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Everyone should read it.
Published 6 days ago by Anne Thornton
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the most important issue of our times. This ...
Perhaps the most important issue of our times. This book reveals the evidence of the fundamental societal impacts of inequality - it should be required reading for all politicians... Read more
Published 12 days ago by QuakerDave
4.0 out of 5 stars A must read for anyone who cares about the economic future of the...
Everyone should read this, it is a concept that could change the world.
Published 16 days ago by Mrs. Sheree Burgess
5.0 out of 5 stars and widening inequality is dangerous for every level of society - not...
I attended an address given by Richard Wilkinson and he is as convincing in a lecture theater as he is in this book. Read more
Published 18 days ago by irene melia
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book. Serious but not depressing
Excellent book. Serious but not depressing. Very readable.Looking at the positives for societies (and American States) that are more equal with specific criteria to compare. Read more
Published 22 days ago by Mrs J M Goodrick
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good read! I do a counselling and psychotherapy degree ...
Very good read! I do a counselling and psychotherapy degree and its perfect for being aware of other factors that can affect mental health! Definately recommend
Published 24 days ago by Amy Cordina
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
All policy makers should read this, carefully.
Published 27 days ago by Dr. A. W. Caan
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Everyone should read this book.
Published 1 month ago by L G Ashman
5.0 out of 5 stars ... book that everyone who cares about the health and happiness of...
This is a well researched book that everyone who cares about the health and happiness of both individuals and our society should read.
Published 1 month ago by butterfly
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