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Spirit Levelby Richard Wilkinson
Synopses & Reviews
This groundbreaking book, based on thirty years' research, demonstrates that more unequal societies are bad for almost everyone within them—the well-off and 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 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 material success and social failure in many modern national societies.
The Spirit Level does not simply provide a diagnosis of our ills, but provides invaluable instruction in shifting the balance from self-interested consumerism to a friendlier, 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.
Defining a citizenandrsquo;s income as a basic financial provision to which all citizens should have an unconditional right, Malcolm Torry examines its potential social and economic advantages in a British context. He argues that the establishment of a citizenandrsquo;s income would reduce inequality; enhance individual freedom; improve social cohesion, family life, the economy, and the employment market; and be simple and inexpensive to administer. Informed by a comparative analysis of other countriesandrsquo; approaches to poverty and inequality,and#160;Money for Everyoneand#160;makes a valuable and timely contribution to current debates about the United Kingdomandrsquo;s public benefits system.
It is a well-established fact that in rich societies the poor have shorter lives and suffer more from almost every social problem. The Spirit Level, based on thirty years of research, takes this truth a step further. One common factor links the healthiest and happiest societies: the degree of equality among their members. Further, more unequal societies are bad for everyone within them-the rich and middle class as well as the poor.
The remarkable data assembled in The Spirit Level exposes stark differences, not only among the nations of the first world but even within America's fifty states. Almost every modern social problem-poor health, violence, lack of community life, teen pregnancy, mental illness-is more likely to occur in a less-equal society.
Renowned researchers Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett lay bare the contradictions between material success and social failure in the developed world. But they do not merely tell us what's wrong. They offer a way toward a new political outlook, shifting from self-interested consumerism to a friendlier, more sustainable society.
About the Author
Richard Wilkinson has played a formative role in international research on inequality, and his work has been published in ten languages. He is professor emeritus at the University of Nottingham Medical School
Kate Pickett is a professor of epidemiology at the University of York and a National Institute for Health Research career scientist.
Table of Contents
List of figures
Structure of the book
About the author
Foreword by Guy Standing
2 How did we get to where we are now?
3 Why do some reform proposals succeed, and some fail?
4 How might we implement a Citizenandrsquo;s Income?
5 Has it ever happened?
6 Criteria for a benefits system: coherence and administrative simplicity
7 Criteria for a benefits system: the family, then, now and in the future
8 Criteria for a benefits system: incentives, efficiency and dignity
9 Criteria for a benefits system: the labour market, then, now and in the future
10 Would people work?
11 Would a Citizenandrsquo;s Income be an answer to poverty, inequality and injustice?
12 Who should receive a Citizenandrsquo;s Income?
13 Is a Citizenandrsquo;s Income politically feasible?
14 Can we afford a Citizenandrsquo;s Income?
15 Alternatives to a Citizenandrsquo;s Income
16 What can a Citizenandrsquo;s Income not cope with?
17 A brief summary
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