In the Independent Yasmin Alibai-Brown discusses the book mentioned last Sunday
In The Spirit Level, two sober academics – Richard Wilkinson and his partner Kate Pickett, both medical epidemiologists – have published strong evidence to prove that in unequal societies everyone suffers – even those who think they have it made for generations to come. They looked at 20 of the richest nations and compared various social and health problems, measuring those against an index of equality. The US, Portugal (feudal in the near past) and the UK are the most unequal nations, with the top 20 per cent earning nine times more than the bottom 20 per cent. Japan, Finland, Norway and Sweden are where the money gap is smallest.
Teenage pregnancies, mental illness, life expectancy, obesity, illiteracy, homicide, crime are all worse in the states of greater inequality and not only for the poorest but for all citizens and residents. Spain is more equal than its neighbour, Portugal and you can see how vastly different are the social ills in the two countries. There is even evidence that in unequal societies, the people have higher levels of stress hormones