** The Inner Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett

The Inner Level: How More Equal Societies Reduce Stress, Restore Sanity and Improve Everyone’s Well-Being wants to prove that unequal societies are bad for everyone in them, not just the people at the bottom of the income scale, but everyone. It is very successful at proving the obvious: that in an unequal society, the folks at the bottom fare very badly indeed, whether it’s their health, their happiness, or their ability to move up in society. It does a fairly good job of showing that inequality matters more than gross income, again for the people at the bottom. I did not find that it manages to show that the richest people in unequal countries suffer–which means that change might be a little difficult, as the very people who have lots of power must like it that way! There is a valiant effort to show that those richest people are really, profoundly unhappy and stressed, but since it relies on self-reported studies that show that a full 25% of the population is depressed, they are a little hard to believe!

It would also be very useful to explore outliers. In almost every measurement, there are countries that just do not fit the trend at all. One would think that serious researchers would want to at least explore why they behave so differently…

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