The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger

Bloomsbury Publishing USA
27
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Groundbreaking analysis showing that greater economic equality-not greater wealth-is the mark of the most successful societies, and offering new ways to achieve it.

"Get your hands on this book."-Bill Moyers

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. It is, in its conclusion, an optimistic book, which should revitalize politics and provide a new way of thinking about how we organize human communities.
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About the author

Richard Wilkinson has played a formative role in international research in inequalities in health 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 Professor of Epidemiology at the University of York and a former National Institute for Health Research Career Scientist. She is the co-founder of The Equality Trust. 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.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Bloomsbury Publishing USA
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Published on
Apr 23, 2010
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Pages
400
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ISBN
9781608191703
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Economics / General
Health & Fitness / Health Care Issues
Political Science / Political Economy
Social Science / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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A groundbreaking investigation of how inequality infects our minds and gets under our skin

Why are people more relaxed and at ease with each other in some countries than others? Why do we worry so much about what others think of us and often feel social life is a stressful performance? Why is mental illness three times as common in the USA as in Germany? Why is the American dream more of a reality in Denmark than the USA? What makes child well-being so much worse in some countries than others? As The Inner Level demonstrates, the answer to all these is inequality.

In The Spirit Level Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett put inequality at the center of public debate by showing conclusively that less equal societies fare worse than more equal ones across everything from education to life expectancy. The Inner Level now explains how inequality affects us individually, altering how we think, feel and behave. It sets out the overwhelming evidence that material inequities have powerful psychological effects: when the gap between rich and poor increases, so does the tendency to define and value ourselves and others in terms of superiority and inferiority. A deep well of data and analysis is drawn upon to empirically show, for example, that low social status leads to elevated levels of stress hormones, and how rates of anxiety, depression and addictions are intimately related to the inequality which makes that status paramount.

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Michael Pollan’s most recent book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation--the story of our most trusted food expert’s culinary education--was published by Penguin Press in April 2013, and in 2016 it serves as the inspiration for a four-part docuseries on Netflix by the same name.
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The struggle to perform well is universal: each one of us faces fatigue, limited resources, and imperfect abilities in whatever we do. But nowhere is this drive to do better more important than in medicine, where lives are on the line with every decision. In his new book, Atul Gawande explores how doctors strive to close the gap between best intentions and best performance in the face of obstacles that sometimes seem insurmountable.

Gawande's gripping stories of diligence, ingenuity, and what it means to do right by people take us to battlefield surgical tents in Iraq, to labor and delivery rooms in Boston, to a polio outbreak in India, and to malpractice courtrooms around the country. He discusses the ethical dilemmas of doctors' participation in lethal injections, examines the influence of money on modern medicine, and recounts the astoundingly contentious history of hand washing. And as in all his writing, Gawande gives us an inside look at his own life as a practicing surgeon, offering a searingly honest firsthand account of work in a field where mistakes are both unavoidable and unthinkable.

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Social Determinants of Health, 2nd Edition gives an authoritative overview of the social and economic factors which are known to be the most powerful determinants of population health in modern societies. Written by acknowledged experts in each field, it provides accessible summaries of the scientific justification for isolating different aspects of social and economic life as the primary determinants of a population's health. The new edition takes account of the most recent research and also includes additional chapters on ethnicity and health, sexual behaviours, the elderly, housing and neighbourhoods. Recognition of the power of socioeconomic factors as determinants of health came initially from research on health inequalities. This has led to a view of health as not simply about individual behaviour or exposure to risk, but how the socially and economically structured way of life of a population shapes its health. Thus exercise and accidents are as much about a society's transport system as about individual decisions; and the nation's diet involves agriculture, food manufacture, retailing, and personal incomes as much as individual choice. But a major new element in the picture we have developed is the importance of the social, or psycho-social, environment to health. For example, health in the workplace for most employees - certainly for office workers - is less a matter of exposure to physical health hazards as of the social environment, of how supportive it is, whether people have control over their work, whether their jobs are secure. A similar picture emerges in other areas ranging from the health importance of the emotional environment in early childhood to the need for more socially cohesive communities. Social Determinants of Health should be read by those interested in the wellbeing of modern societies. It is a must for public health professionals, for health promotion specialists, and for people working in the many fields of public policy which we now know make such an important contribution to health.
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