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

The Spirit Level by Richard G. Wilkinson
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Apr 06, 2010

it was amazing
Read from April 06 to 12, 2010

Very refreshing to read someone making the case for a more equal society and challenging the unexamined norms of economic disparity.

There are a few quibbles about some of the statistics, but this is something of a side issue. The evidence for the benefits of a more equal society is overwhelming. Most of the book is taken up with analysis of statistical data on various issues such as violence, obesity, educational outcomes, social mobility imprisonment etc. The last third is taken up with more of an ideological discussion of where things might go once the case has been made.

Some of the most compelling material came on pages 178 and 179 of the paperback edition which showed that the top 25% (in terms of income) of British men of working age were still more likely to die than the bottom 25% of Swedish men. Also, that the infant mortality rate of the top sixth of UK society was still higher than the bottom sixth in Sweden. That greater equality would benefit all sections of society on all issues wasn’t proved, but it becomes very difficult to dispute that the overwhelming majority of people in the UK and especially the US would benefit from living in a more equal society.

In some ways this book was preaching to the converted, but it is good to know the empirical evidence is there to back up what you assumed was true and to bolster an already powerful ethical argument for greater equality.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Grace I tried to get Richard W. to do another book for me after The Impact of Inequality was published but he really wanted something available cheaply and in bookshops etc. I said that would have to be trade and here it is! Are you enjoying it? I might read it too.


message 2: by Terry (new)

Terry Clague Welcome to pedantry corner - "the top 25% (in terms of income) of British men of working age were still more likely to die than the bottom 25% of Swedish men." - I'm no trickledown man as you know but surely - regardless of income - everybody's chance of dying is 100%?


message 3: by Joe (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joe Of course I could have explained in explicit detail that it referred to men dying whilst still of working age, but I assumed that the qualification "men of working age" would be sufficient. Clearly not...


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