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Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better

Professor Richard Wilkinson will be outlining the compelling evidence showing that large income inequalities within societies harm the social fabric and quality of life for everyone and asking, How ought we to act on this, and where will we find the remedies to these problems?

Great inequality is the scourge of modern societies. We provide the evidence on each of eleven different health and social problems: physical health, mental health, drug abuse, education, imprisonment, obesity, social mobility, trust and community life, violence, teenage births, and child well-being. For all eleven of these health and social problems, outcomes are very substantially worse in more unequal societies.

We have checked the relationships wherever possible in two independent test beds: internationally among the rich countries, and then again among the 50 states of the USA. In almost every case we find the same tendency for outcomes to be much worse in more unequal societies in both settings.

We also present evidence on four other important issues. One is how achieving greater equality within the rich countries may contribute to tackling the inequalities between rich and poor countries. Another is a discussion of both the compatibility and relative merits of greater equality and economic growth as sources of improvements in the quality of life among rich countries. There is a page discussing how greater equality may contribute to policies designed to tackle global warming, and lastly, a page (The Remedies) pointing out that there are many different ways of increasing equality in our societies.

The data we use comes from the most respected international sources including The World Bank, World Health Organisation, United Nations, UNICEF, and US Census Bureau. Much of this work has already been published in peer reviewed academic journals, and some of the relationships have been tested many times by different research groups using data for different societies.



Mr Richard Wilkinson | talks | www


Date and Time:

31 January 2010 at 11:00 am


2 hours



Conway Hall
Conway Hall
25 Red Lion Square
0207 242 8034

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What the press say about 'The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better'

“A compass to rebuild our societies…..a shining vision”
Johann Hari, Independent

"Brave and imaginative ...a far-reaching analysis"
Michael Sargent, Nature

"Has been making policy waves on both sides of the Atlantic"
Julian le Grand, Prospect

“Social status hierarchies are literally lethal”
Goran Therborn, Professor of Sociology, University of Cambridge

“A ground-breaking work and one that deserves the widest possible readership”
Iain Ferguson, Socialist Review

“Compelling and shocking. All free marketers should be made to memorize it from cover to cover”
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Independent

“It’s impossible to overstate the implications of (this) thesis ...brave ...transformative ...its conclusion is simple: we do better when we're equal”
Lynsey Hanley, Guardian

“A remarkable new book ...the implications are profound”
Will Hutton, Observer

“….might be the most important book of the year”
John Crace, Guardian

“In these gloomy times – this work should cheer you up no end”
Peter Wilby, New Statesman

“This is a book with a big idea, big enough to change political thinking”
John Carey, Sunday Times

“A powerful argument”
Matthew Taylor, Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce

“Graph after graph demonstrates cause and dire effect”
Colette Douglas Home, Glasgow Herald

“A profoundly important book”
Richard Layard

“This book communicates a relevant and powerful message for our times”
Niall Crowley, Irish Times

“It is a sweeping claim, yet the evidence, here painstakingly marshalled, is hard to dispute”
The Economist

“They’re onto something here, aren’t they?”
Michael White, Guardian

“A crucial contribution to the ideological argument ...it provides a vital part of the intellectual manifesto on which the battle for a better society can be fought”
Roy Hattersley, New Statesman

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