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The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better

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9781846140396: The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better
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Large inequalities of income in a society have often been regarded as divisive and corrosive, and it is common knowledge that in rich societies the poor have shorter lives and suffer more from almost every social problem. This groundbreaking book, based on thirty years' research, demonstrates that more unequal societies are bad for almost everyone within them - the well-off as well as the poor. The remarkable data the book lays out and the measures it uses are like a spirit level which we can hold up to compare the conditions of different societies. The differences revealed, even between rich market democracies, are striking.Almost every modern social and environmental problem - 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. The book goes to the heart of the apparent contrast between the material success and social failings of many modern societies. "The Spirit Level" does not simply provide a key to diagnosing our ills. It tells us how to shift the balance from self-interested 'consumerism' to a friendlier and more collaborative society. It shows a way out of the social and environmental problems which beset us and opens up a major new approach to improving the real quality of life, not just for the poor but for everyone. It is, in its conclusion, an optimistic book, which should revitalise politics and provide a new way of thinking about how we organise human communities.

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'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

From the Back Cover:

It may seem obvious that problems associated with relative deprivation should be more common in more unequal societies. However, if you ask people why greater equality reduces these problems, much the most common guess is that it must be because more equal societies have fewer poor people. The assumption is that greater equality helps those at the bottom. As well as being only a minor part of the proper explanation, it is an assumption which reflects our failure to recognize very important processes affecting our lives and the societies we are part of. The truth is that the vast majority of the population is harmed by greater inequality.

Across whole populations, rates of mental illness are five times higher in the most unequal compared to the least unequal societies. Similarly, in more unequal societies people are five times as likely to be imprisoned, six times as likely to be clinically obese, and murder rates may be many times higher. The reason why these differences are so big is, quite simply, because the effects of inequality are not confined just to the least well off: instead they affect the vast majority of the population.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780241954294: The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone

Featured Edition

ISBN 10: 0241954290 ISBN 13: 9780241954294
Publisher: Penguin, 2010
Softcover

9781608193417: The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger

Blooms..., 2011
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9781608190362: The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger

Blooms..., 2009
Hardcover

9780141032368: The Spirit Level: Why Equality Is Better For Everyone

Penguin, 2010
Softcover

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