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194 of 211 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inequality- as bad for the rich as for the poor, December 23, 2009
This review is from: The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger (Hardcover)
I welcome this book. It is a superb summary of the problems that inequality actually creates. Inequality issues are often presented as being about the poor, but this book shows that we are all poorer for living in more unequal societies. Inequality is as bad for the rich as it is for the poor. Society is poorer as inequality becomes greater.

The impacts of inequality show up in poorer health, lower educational attainment, higher crime rates, lower social capital, lower trust, lower co-operation the more unequal the society becomes. Wilkinson and Pickett give us clear evidence for these statements.

For the last twelve years we have endured in the UK a Labour government that preaches equality (then wonders "equality of what?") whilst actually presiding over increasing inequality and reducing social mobility.

Wilkinson and Pickett present their evidence well, in summary and clearly. I have the benefit of having been reading the research work on inequalities over several years so I recognised their evidence. If you need further evidence then you could follow the references, or read some of Wilkinson's The Impact of Inequality: How to Make Sick Societies Healthier earlier works, or Michael Marmot's useful book, "The Status Syndrome: How Social Standing Affects Our Health and Longevity." Their presentation of evidence is strong, and it is difficult after seeing their evidence to argue in favour of greater inequality at all.

Inequality is clearly a bad thing for a society, and its constituent individuals. The question comes about what to do about it, and how best to reduce it. Sadly these questions are usually posed and answered from the political left, usually in terms of state action and redistribution. It is clear after 12 years of a hyperactive state under Gordon Brown that state action is a blunt instrument at best, and can often make things worse, and lock inequality in.

Wilkinson and Pickett have written this book well and have made an accurate diagnosis of the problems inequality is causing in unequal societies such as UK and USA. I am less sure about their suggested remedies, but I support their work, and hope that political and economic thinkers both on the left and on the right will come to recognise the problem of inequality, and come up with solutions for it.

Meanwhile as a medical doctor I will continue to try to patch up the casualties of inequality I meet in my consulting room.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 29, 2010 8:30:17 AM PDT
Thank you , Dr. Davies for your thoughts. I am a physician in NYC,USA and see things with a similar view. I just heard the author interviewed on Pacifica radio, and the theory and the facts are quite important- what to do about it- that is a bit trickier. Thank you for your review. jhedmed@aol.com

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 10, 2010 9:41:05 PM PDT
Thomas Merle says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on May 1, 2010 8:20:13 AM PDT
J. M. Morgan says:
You have to distinguish between different categories of physicians. It is a very different picture for primary care physicians, especially those who choose to serve in poor communities vs many specialists.

In reply to an earlier post on May 25, 2011 1:30:52 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 25, 2011 1:31:27 PM PDT
nobody says:
Thomas Merle:
In the UK physicians are not paid as high as in the US so your remark is futile.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 8, 2011 7:49:06 AM PDT
Ian Millard says:
I agree that the pay of doctors and surgeons is not a vital aspect of this debate, though in fact medical pay in the UK has risen markedly in recent years and a general practitioner is unlikely to get less than £100,000 p.a. today. That may seem small beer to an American but the UK average pay (leaving out the unemployed, disabled and pensioners/senior citizens) is only about £20,000...

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2011 8:45:37 PM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Feb 2, 2013 3:01:18 PM PST]
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