York lecturer releases groundbreaking book on social inequality

A book published by two York academics has acheived international success for its treatise on inequality and happiness.

The book, ‘The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better’, was released on March 5 2009.

Dr Pickett, author and member of the Department of Health Sciences, believes that our overall health and well-being would be substantially improved if Britain had a more equal way of distributing income. She explains: “Even allowing for the current economic circumstances, we live in an era of unprecedented prosperity, and yet we find ourselves more anxious, isolated, unhealthy and unhappy than ever.”

Wilkinson and Pickett argue that almost every socio-economic problem that modern day governments face is exacerbated when there is greater difference in the distribution of income. This includes things like obesity rates, deaths from drugs and violence and longer working hours.

The book goes on to state that, although most people’s perception is that the poor will bear the brunt of the suffering, even the more affluent sections of society are damaged by an unequal wealth distribution.

Wilkinson says: “Societies reach a point where extra income ceases to bring the wealthiest any additional well-being and the gap between the richest and poorest has a corrosive effect on the quality of life enjoyed by all.”

After 30 years of research, the book’s authors came to the conclusion that today’s Britain would have substantially less health and social problems if the gap between rich and poor was more similar to countries such as Japan, Norway, Sweden and Finland. Wilkinson concludes: “We need to find ways of creating a more collaborative society that produces benefits for everybody.”

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