‘The Spirit Level’ by Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson

The Spirit Level by Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson highlights the negative effects that inequality has on societies, including how it encourages excessive spending, disease, rises in anxiety, and undermines trust. It shows that outcomes are noticeably poorer in richer, more unequal nations for each of the eleven different types of social and health issues. Childbearing, teenage pregnancies, violence, social mobility, obesity, incarceration, education, drug misuse, mental health, and physical health are some of these issues. This essay analyzes the book The Spirit Level and offers theoretical and empirical justifications for why inequality is bad for society and why it is beneficial to a significant degree. According to Wilkinson & Kate (2011 p 28) , society, in general, is negatively influenced by the firm, positive associations between social and economic inequalities creating. They believe that public social dysfunction is related to variation. Massive amounts of economic and social disproportions lead to a society that fails to operate well as its people’s needs are not efficiently provided. This positive association between the two forms of inequality is well illustrated when Wilkinson & Kate (2011 p 29) assert that there are nearly 200 surveys of health as it relates to equality and income. Their studies reveal that the same nations experience similar inequality measures and re-occurring problems. Multiple investigations by the authors prove the theory that predominance in a society worsens the situation of individuals across the board. Hence, a community that lacks equality causes challenges which are not merely fairly more severe, but anything nearly between twice to ten times as standard. Imbalance in societies forms an environment in which all people are disadvantaged due to the absence of concern and justice for everyone. The authors aim to show how inequalities in a nation produce more complex problems than those of countries with the more significant level of equality, hence lowers the quality of life of its citizens.

Structural inequalities formed by the existing institutions in the United States produce the absence of social mobility that consequently leads to disparities in income. The validity of this theory can be well demonstrated by the work of Apama Mathur on “Social Mobility within the US” (Goldsmith & Edward, 2015 P 65). City planning designed by the government lead to residential segregation, a kind of structural inequality, in which housing location influences people’s access to resources and opportunities. Income determines a person’s standard of living hence people residing within low-income regions are disadvantaged since the available resources are not adequate unlike those based on better neighborhoods.

In a further demonstration of the predominance of the theory of structural inequalities as it relates to income inequality, Wilkinson’s Ted talk can be qualified. Wilkinson & Kate (2011 p 95) illustrate several correlations between countries and their social problems but does not explain the existence of these relationships. His speech demonstrates how correlations presented by him according to other writers can somehow prove causation. In this study, Wilkinson compared several problems from the population in prison to obesity to life expectancy and discovered that countries with more inequality are performing worse in the entire social challenges.

A society with more significant results in inequality is, almost certainly, a society with greater disparities in opportunities. This theory is supported by the authors of The Spirit Level. In the world and mainly the US, inequalities in income have become a toxic and detrimental issue. The book indicates the positive relationships between disparities in various societies. The authors offer persuasive arguments in support of their perceptions of the critical problem with income inequality. However, It can be argued that the essential challenge is based on institutions. Today, society fails to offer appropriate facilities and programs to individuals of varying incomes hence form disadvantages that are destructive to the lives of citizens. To achieve equality in economic society requires connecting to a person’s potential to their value. In the institution of justice, balance can be reached by offering the entire population with equal services in health care, education and other aspects that influence well-being. Also, two parties in a conflict have similar rights and strengths when arriving at a verdict (Goldsmith & Edward, 2015 P 99).

How Equality Benefits Societies

Wilkinson & Kate (2011 p 115) assert that Equality is crucial since it forms the basis for fairness in any society where everyone can have the opportunity to achieve their full potential. Equality prevents the dominance of one section of society over another in systems like capacity building. They also acknowledged that certain individuals might require being supported more than others for them to reach their full capability. Equality prevents generalizations regarding specific categories. In The Spirit Level, the authors present data indicating that nearly all indicators of social health within affluent societies have a positive correlation to its extent of inequalities in the economy. The best way to pursue equality in society is through educational, juridical and economic institutions. Since individuals are different and have different talents and potentials, there should be attempts to diminish the connection these skills and possibilities have to the satisfaction of efforts employed. Equal remuneration functions as a necessity for a feeling of equality in merit mainly when income and wealth are linked to how people are treated, the potential they have and how other consider them. Comparing data from the US and other developed economies, Wilkinson & Kate (2011 p 171) state that the overall wealth and GDP are no so significant to affluent societies. Instead, the gap between the wealthy and the needy is what is telling.

The Spirit Level offers a timely and compelling argument for building more equal societies. It reaches a point when concerns and questions in education about equality become less prioritized than concerns and questions regarding the economy. Picket and Wilkinson put their thoughts in the book to publicize their study findings and persuade pessimists regarding the benefits and necessity of building more equal societies. The authors assert that the inequality issues faced by the community are not limited to individuals from deprived backgrounds, but they impact individuals in all spheres of life. The authors dismiss the myth that higher equality only benefits those in the lower classes of social hierarchy. According to the authors, greater balance is beneficial to everyone regarding physical, mental and social lives


It is well known that in wealthy societies, the less fortunate have shorter life spans, and undergoes more suffering in nearly all social issues. The Spirit Level, founded on many years of research validates this truth. One common aspect, which is the level of equality among individuals, connects the happiest and healthiest societies. The reliable data collected within The Spirit level lays bare apparent differences not merely among the first world countries but also in the fifty states of America. Nearly all current social issues including mental illness, teen pregnancy, absence of community life, violence and poor health are more likely to happen within a less-equal society. Renowned researchers Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson expose the refutations between social failure and material success in developed countries. However, they not only mention the wrong but provide an alternative to a new political viewpoint, moving from self-seeking to a more sustainable, friendlier society.

Works Cited

Goldsmith, William W, and Edward J Blakely. Separate Societies. Philadelphia, Pa., Temple University Press, 2010,.

Wilkinson, Richard G, and Kate Pickett. The Spirit Level. New York, Bloomsbury, 2011,.

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