Social class, politics, and the spirit level: Why income inequality remains unexplained and unsolved

Carles Muntaner, Nanky Rai, Edwin Ng, Haejoo Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett's latest book, The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Best for Everyone, has caught the attention of academics and policymakers and stimulated debate across the left-right political spectrum. Interest in income inequality has remained unabated since the publication of Wilkinson's previous volume, Unhealthy Societies: The Afflictions of Inequality. While both books detail the negative health effects of income inequality, The Spirit Level expands the scope of its argument to also include social issues. The book, however, deals extensively with the explanation of how income inequality affects individual health. Little attention is given to political and economic explanations on how income inequality is generated in the first place. The volume ends with political solutions that carefully avoid state interventions such as limiting the private sector's role in the production of goods and services (e.g., non-profit sector, employeeownership schemes). Although well-intentioned, these alternatives are insufficient to significantly reduce the health inequalities generated by contemporary capitalism in wealthy countries, let alone around the world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-381
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Health Services
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jan 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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