January 02, 2011

Spirit Level is low in US

Here's another variation of the argument I've used to explain the plight of Indians. This time it's in a book with "mountains of data."

Equality, a True Soul Food

By Nicholas D. KristofThere’s growing evidence that the toll of our stunning inequality is not just economic but also is a melancholy of the soul. The upshot appears to be high rates of violent crime, high narcotics use, high teenage birthrates and even high rates of heart disease.

That’s the argument of an important book by two distinguished British epidemiologists, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. They argue that gross inequality tears at the human psyche, creating anxiety, distrust and an array of mental and physical ailments—and they cite mountains of data to support their argument.

“If you fail to avoid high inequality, you will need more prisons and more police,” they assert. “You will have to deal with higher rates of mental illness, drug abuse and every other kind of problem.” They explore these issues in their book, “The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger.”

The heart of their argument is that humans are social animals and that in highly unequal societies those at the bottom suffer from a range of pathologies. For example, a long-term study of British civil servants found that messengers, doormen and others with low status were much more likely to die of heart disease, suicide and some cancers and had substantially worse overall health.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Poverty Makes People Sick and Intergenerational Trauma = PTSD.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why does "spirit level" make me think of mana points?