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.
“Wilkinson and Pickett make an eloquent case that the income gap between a nation's richest and poorest is the most powerful indicator of a functioning and healthy society…Felicitous prose and fascinating findings make this essential reading.”—Publishers Weekly (starred)
“In this fascinating sociological study, the authors do an excellent job of presenting the research, analyzing nuances, and offering policy suggestions for creating more equal and sustainable societies. For all readers, specialized or not, with an interest in understanding the dynamics today between economic and social conditions.”—Library Journal
“The Spirit Level will change the way you think about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, especially if you live in the United States. You will reexamine what it means to be successful, how you will seek and achieve personal satisfaction, and what you owe your fellow citizen.”—Jo Perry, BookBrowse.com
“It has taken two experts from the field of public health to deliver a major study of the effects of inequality on society. Though Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett are British, their research explores the United States in depth, and their work is an important contribution to the debate our country needs.”—Robert B. Reich, from the foreword
“Might be the most important book of the year.”—Guardian
“Fascinating and deeply provoking…The Spirit Level does contain a powerful political message. It is impossible to read it and not to be impressed by how often greater equality appears to be the answer, whatever happens to be the question. It provides a connection between what otherwise look like disparate social problems.”—David Runciman, London Review of Books
"Citizen's Income is a big idea whose time might at last have come. Malcolm Torry's book could play a part in making that happen. Everyone should read it."
and#8220;Comprehensive and persuasive, this book debunks the current orthodoxies on welfare reform, and sets out a radical alternative to coercion and 'targeting'and#8212;a universal, unconditional, non-withdrawable payment for every citizen.and#8221; Bill Jordan, Plymouth University
and#8220;Torryand#8217;s very thorough presentation is worthy of the LSE tradition to which it belongs.and#8221;
and#8220;The author attempts to explore its implications on the economy, social cohesion, families, and the employment market.and#8221;and#160;
andldquo;Provides a wide ranging but general introduction for those who are new to the subject, while offering those with more familiarity a useful compendium of recent literatures and debates.andrdquo;
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.
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.
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