Jeff's Reviews > The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better

The Spirit Level by Richard G. Wilkinson
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Dec 21, 09

Read in December, 2009

I would have liked the book more if the data sets presented were complete. In numerous graphs the critera is "more equal vs less equal" or "better vs worse" etc. This is not what I would consider rigorous presentation of the data. Additionally, when a graph did have a numerical scale it would not encompass the total bounds of possible values. For example instead of a graph being on a scale from 0% to 100%, it would instead be something like 20 to 60%, showing a much more drastic relationship than exists in reality.

I also feel like the graph data was selected fairly arbitrarily, including only certain countries while leaving out others. In some cases just leaving the US and UK out of the set would imply no or extremely weak correlations to the accompanying point in the text.

While I agree that society should be more equitable, I find that the way the supporting evidence is presented is the wrong way to present this point.

In the end it was okay: 2 stars.
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message 1: by Tiredstars (new) - added it

Tiredstars I assumed that in all cases countries were left out if comparable data wasn't available. That's why the EU countries, with their relatively standardised data collection are (almost?) always shown, but Singapore and Israel only sometimes appear.
If just removing the US or UK from a set would mean the correlation becomes extremely weak, then it's a weak correlation to start with. You can check the strength of all the correlations in the appendix. Most can be considered strong, a few medium.


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