In July 2011, Richard Wilkinson (coauthor -- with Kate Pickett -- of The Spirit Level (2009), on how societies with more equal distribution of incomes have better health, fewer social problems such as violence, drug abuse, teenage births, mental illness, obesity, and others, and are more cohesive than ones in which the gap between the rich and poor is greater) reviewed the data the book is based on in a 16-minute TED talk.  --  COMMENT:  In the London Review of Books, Wilkinson admitted that "we do not have evidence on the fraction of one percent who are very rich," but that "people at all other levels of the social hierarchy do better in more equal societies."  --  A key question is whether the richest 1% we are all now talking about are truly misguided in their resistance to greater equality and also suffer from inequality ("Midases of the world!  you have nothing to lose but your gold!"), or whether they are really benefiting from it at what Wilkinson and Pickett call "the spirit level" ("I prefer to keep all my residences even though I've lost count of them, thank you very much").  --  See here for more discussion of Wilkinson's argument....





By Richard Wikinson

July 2011

We feel instinctively that societies with huge income gaps are somehow going wrong. Richard Wilkinson charts the hard data on economic inequality, and shows what gets worse when rich and poor are too far apart: real effects on health, lifespan, even such basic values as trust.