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Why do we mistrust people more in the UK than in Japan? Why do Americans have higher rates of teenage pregnancy than the French? What makes the Swedish thinner than the Greeks? The answer: inequality. This groundbreaking book, based on years of research, provides hard evidence to show: - How almost everything – from life expectancy to depression levels, violence to illiteracy – is affected not by how wealthy a society is, but how equal it is - That societies with a bigger gap between rich and poor are bad for everyone in them – including the well-off - How we can find positive solutions and move towards a happier, fairer future Urgent, provocative and genuinely uplifting, The Spirit Level has been heralded as providing a new way of thinking about ourselves and our communities, and could change the way you see the world.
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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
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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