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Status anxieties

We tend to assume that inequality in affluent societies is a sign of economic health and social vigour. But the evidence suggests that it makes us sick

By Marek Kohn   September 2005

The Impact of Inequality by Richard G Wilkinson (Routledge, £19.99)

Richard Wilkinson’s latest book tells us what we already know, and that is why we need it. We know that oppressive, unequal relationships are bad for us, and that broadly voluntary, roughly equal relationships are good for us; and if we think about it we recognise that this is true for societies as well as for personal relations.

Wilkinson’s project, pursued for over 25 years, is to show that these are scientific truths. The effects of inequality are counted above all in deaths. Easy to define, reliably reported and unarguably…

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