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Extended Audio Sample The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger, by Kate Pickett, Richard Wilkinson Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (1,234 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Kate Pickett, Richard Wilkinson Narrator: Clive Chafer Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Renowned researchers Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett offer groundbreaking analysis showing that greater economic equality—not greater wealth—is the mark of the most successful societies and offer new ways to achieve it.

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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Might be the most important book of the year.”

    Guardian (London)

  • “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 review)

  • “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

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Kirsten | 2/15/2014

    " While I definitely agreed with the thesis and conclusion, I found myself unimpressed by how much their arguments leaned on Social Darwinism, which is so often used as the go-to argument for defending the status quo. That being said, at least it is here being used to justify a major shift in thinking from selfishness to altruism, from isolationism to care for the community. That I whole-heartedly agree is a change we need to make, and I would therefore recommend this book to everybody. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Alison | 2/5/2014

    " Although for me and most of the people I know, the basis of this book is preaching to the choir, it is certainly good to have our innate feelings supported by clear data and statistics. For people who come from a standpoint of empathy, social justice and social cohesion, it's obvious to us that equality is needed, especially income equality these days. But saying something is the right thing to do morally is one thing; showing it is the right thing to do in a concrete way - showing the good that comes out of more equal societies with hard facts and numbers - is likely to be much more persuasive and effective with regard to those for whom empathy is, shall we say, lacking. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Meepspeeps | 2/3/2014

    " I wish I could buy every elected official a copy. This book contains extensive, long-term data from a public health perspective, no narrow agenda, to demonstrate that more equal societies (i.e. less of a gap between the richest and the poorest) benefit ALL levels in the society. They also show that more unequal states have the same problems within the state. Page 261, "if the USA was to reduce its income inequality to something like the average of the four most equal of the rich countries, the proportion of the population feeling they could trust others might rise by 75% - presumably with matching improvements in the quality of community life; rates of mental illness and obesity might similarly each be cut by almost two-thirds [across all incomes], teenage birth rates could be more than halved, prison populations might be reduced by 75%, and people could live longer while working the equivalent of two months less per year." So even if we became a little more equal, all members of society would benefit to some extent. Before you conclude "socialists!!" the authors remind us that more equality can be achieved several ways, not just the presumptive higher tax rates on the rich. To treat inequality as a public health problem made sense to me; we know the solutions; all we need is political will and community spirit to accomplish it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Jay Mccready | 2/1/2014

    " I received this book for free through the Good Reads first reads program. This is a very well laid out book with a ton of research that is easy to understand. Well thought out and written this book really changed my perspective. I was always under the impression that most of societies ills were driven by money but from the view that richer countries were better off. This book took that idea and flipped it upside down. I found it to not only be compelling but convincing as well and I would highly recommend this book for any one who likes to dig a little deeper. "

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