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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 14 July 2017
Brilliant
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on 7 August 2017
A brilliant book. Gets you thinking.
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on 6 July 2017
Fantastic book. Insightful, forward-thinking and provides intelligent reasoning to back up its claims.
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on 9 October 2014
Just read it - if enough people pay attention to this book we will live in a tolerable world.
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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. The question comes about what to do about it, and how best to reduce it. Sadly these questions are usually posed and answered from the political left, usually in terms of state action and redistribution. It is clear after 12 years of a hyperactive state under Gordon brown that state action is a blunt instrument at best, and can often make things worse, and lock inequality in.

Wilkinson and Pickett have written this book well and have made an accurate diagnosis of the problems inequality is causing in unequal societies such as UK and USA. I am less sure about their suggested remedies, but I support their work, and hope that political and economic thinkers both on the left and on the right will come to recognise the problem of inequality, and come up with solutions for it.

Meanwhile as a medical doctor I will continue to try to patch up the casualties of inequality I meet in my consulting room.
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on 7 June 2010
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. One can see this vividly expressed if one clicks on the one-star reviews of this book, the paucity of the response is impressive.

On the downside, it was a disappointment that only rich countries were fully investigated, though the volume and quality of data available from these countries is no doubt of a more comprehensive nature. Certainly (from the data at the beginning of the book) the correlation between social indicators and inequality in less developed countries appears just as, if not more, damaging. The ideas that the authors propose for remedying the situation are of a tentative nature, and rightly so. They are presenting the data; it is the responsibility of society at large to debate these issues, and hopefully for the debate to go beyond the platitudes of the professional political class, the constraints imposed by the corporate media, and other vested interests in an unequal society. To this end the authors along with others have formed the Equality Trust, details of which are in the book.

A fine book, which clearly presents arguments and data in a way that should be clear to even the most statistically challenged reader. Other books that examine the links between wealth and social problems that are worth reading include those by Oliver James who has been probing these issues, particularly with regard to mental health, for a number of years (see Affluenza and The Selfish Capitalist: Origins of Affluenza).
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 29 January 2012
A more equal society. Four words that don't mean much when stood alone. This book tells the reader exactly what they mean. Up to Chapter 13 it is a barrage of facts and graphs and earnest reportage dissecting the notion of equality into Nation parts. Scientific and always apropos I pined for some depth of field in this photograph of human society. Then Chapter 14 provided that contrast and led me onward with its fascinating analysis of human evolution.

Called 'Our Social Inheritance' it works especially well after the preceding chapters mathematically proving how much healthier ALL people are under the umbrella of a more equal society, the examples of life during the two world wars with rationing being most memorable. The authors compare chimpanzees with another primate which I had never heard of: the bonobos, I slid my Kindle cursor next to the word just to confirm a) its not a gag b) its nothing to do with U2 and c) it's a kind of chimpanzee. In a nutshell chimps are power orientated, bonobos are sex orientated. At feeding times the bonobo has a sex feast: 'a peak of sexual activity' and erections have same-sex and opposite sex relief. I forget what the chimp does. Conflicts are assuaged and a kind of equality of opportunity 'feeds' all bonobos. Whilst DNA associated with social, sexual and parenting behaviour differs between chimps and bonobos, humans have the bonobo pattern not the chimpanzee.

The chapter goes on to analyse the importance of stress in the pregnant woman. Stress can be transferred to the womb and the baby after birth. Empathy in adult life is learnt at these very early stages of existence. Or not as the case may be. Fascinating reading were I feel both the gaze in the zoo and the warmth of understanding.

I could continue by highlighting this point or that observation but I think I'll leave you with the following personal reflection. My parents' generation were born in the 1920s. I look at their black and white photographs and I see real happiness. I look at the colour photographs with car, kids, garden and beach holidays and I don't see happiness in their eyes, contentment yes, but not that sparkle. And I realise that then there were so many people around them. Equal to the core of their beings. Happy.
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on 7 May 2014
Good book for facts and figure especially useful for student nurses. Iv used mine often and have found it to be an asset to my collection
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on 5 June 2014
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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on 8 April 2017
Interesting set of ideas, although I found it a little repetitive.
With a mass of data presented to you there is an inclination to take it all as fact. In this case I think I need to read some of the rebuttal books and articles to try to form a more rounded view.
It seems to me that socialist or indeed communist systems are being called for, but in general communist states have not proved to be sustainable for the long-term due possibly to implementation failings.
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