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UNICEF Social Inclusion, Policy and Budgeting

The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality makes Societies Stronger

Cover Image
AUTHOR Bill Kerry, Kate E. Pickett and Richard Wilkinson, The Equality Trust and UNICEF
TYPE Other
DATE 2010
TOPIC Child poverty and disparities

In your book, The Spirit Level, you claim that more equal societies – those with a narrower gap between rich and poor – do better. Can you expand on this?

We set out to find an explanation for problems with social gradients; that is, problems that are worst among the poorest in society, but also show a gradient across the whole society. Problems with social gradients include health, violent crime, and educational failure. We wanted to test a theory: that problems with social gradients are not caused by differences in material wealth, or by any kind of sorting or selection effects, but instead are due to social status differentiation itself - to the degree of hierarchy within a society.

We therefore looked at rich developed market democracies, specifically those where economic growth is no longer associated with life expectancy, happiness or wellbeing.

Download The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality makes Societies Stronger