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In the news ... Material success and social failure?
It is common knowledge
that in rich societies the poor have shorter lives and
suffer more from almost every social problem. Likewise,
large inequalities of income are often regarded as
divisive and corrosive.
In a groundbreaking book, based on 30 years'
research, Richard Wilkinson, Emeritus Professor at The
University of Nottingham together with co-author Kate Pickett
from the University of York, go an important stage beyond
either of these ideas to
demonstrate that more unequal societies are bad for almost
everyone within them — the well-off as well as the
Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett forcefully
demonstrate that nearly every modern social and environmental
ill-health, lack of community, life, violence, drugs,
obesity, mental illness, long working hours, big prison
populations — is more likely to occur in a less equal
society, and adversely affects all of those within it.
The remarkable data the book presents and the
measures it uses are like a spirit level which we can hold up
to compare the conditions of different societies. It reveals
if Britain became as equal as the average for the four
most equal of the rich countries (Japan, Norway, Sweden and
Finland), levels of trust might be expected to increase by
two-thirds, homicide rates could fall by 75 per cent, everyone
could get the equivalent of almost seven weeks extra holiday a
year, and governments could be closing prisons all over the
The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies
Almost Always Do
Better, shows us how, after a point, additional
income buys less and less additional health, happiness and
wellbeing. The issue is now community and how we relate
to each other. This important book explains how it is now
possible to piece together a new, compelling and coherent
picture of how we can release societies from the grip of
pervasive and schismatic dysfunctional behaviour, a picture
which will revitalise politics and provide a new way of
thinking about how we organise human communities. It is a
major new approach to how we can
improve the real quality of life, not just for the
poor, but for everyone.
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 Senior
Lecturer 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.
University of Nottingham 03 09
Internet Press Office
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