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The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone Paperback – 4 Nov 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 302 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Edition edition (4 Nov. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241954290
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241954294
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (302 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,696 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

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

Review

'This is a book with a big idea, big enough to change political thinking' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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This book has re-aligned my views completely. In case the title is misleading, the 'equality' is income equality (or inequality) and correlates to so many factors in our society - health outcomes, childhood literacy, obesity, teenage pregnancy etc.

It shows how very unequal societies have much worse problems, even for the very rich. You just end up with the rich having to live in gated communities for security.

Certainly, this is one of the most influential books I've ever read.
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So, i bought this book while I was a university student and bought it after a recommendation of a lecturer.

This book illustrates the negative impacts of living in a not so equal society, by explaining how bad it is for people on the higher and lower end of the socioeconomic ladder. So inequality especially health inequality is bad for everyone, but some organisations and people benefit from this.

So as a university student i found that this book helped me identify the reason for the link between inequality and social problems, while also showing statistical bases; HOWEVER, these statistical bases are to some extend manipulative. So, the way you interpret this book depends on whether you are for or against capitalism. Either way, I enjoyed reading this book and I would highly recommend them to students to help them gain an insight into the extend of inequality but please note it is variables. So, there are a few glaring flaws but nothing to major.

Would I recommend this? Yes, but please note that this book is pretty much politically motivated.
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If you are new to "The Spirit Level" arguments, take care. There are some first class counter-arguments out there. Also, even if The Spirit Level's statistics were totally accurate, I'm not convinced by their argument - but did enjoy some of the concepts they were tangling with. It's been an influential book and does have a point to make - but make sure you check out its critics.
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Brilliant
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Fantastic book. Insightful, forward-thinking and provides intelligent reasoning to back up its claims.
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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.
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Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett have put the question of inequality under the spotlight in their fine study, "The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone". The focus of their efforts is on the richer nations, essentially those that are in the OECD. They make a strong case for the correlation between the amount of inequality in a country, and the incidence of a number of social problems ranging from teenage pregnancies and drug use, to life expectancy, depression and obesity. Not only that, but they make a case for the fact that people across all income levels in the more equal societies benefit - not just those at the lower income levels.

Wilkinson and Pickett buttress their assertions with a vast array of data. In some cases the correlation between inequality and social problems is very strong, for example between income inequality and rates of imprisonment, in others it is merely pretty strong. There are a few exceptions, but the general case for the link between inequality and a variety of damaging social problems is concluisively made.

Identifying the reason for link between inequality and social problems, disentangling cause and effect, is more problematic. The authors make quite strong cases in some instances, but in others the link is of a more speculative. More studies evidently need to be carried out.

The moral of this story: that inequality is damaging to society seems self-evident, at least to this reader. The novelty in this book is the volume of data accumulated to back the argument, and the number of social issues examined. It puts defenders of the unequal societies we live in, particularly the Anglo-Saxon countries, on the back foot during any discussions of inequality.
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