Apologies for the lengthy review/ramble. Wealth Inequality has long been a special interest (pet hate?) of mine, and Pickett and Wilkinson’s first piece on the matter – The Spirit Level – was a hugely influential book on my thinking.
To be honest I was slow to pick up Inner Level though, as I kinda thought that the thorough and robust Spirit Level hardly left anything more to present.
I was completely wrong.
The Inner level focusses much more on the personal effects of wealth inequality and expands the detail into how inequality impacts mental health, through status anxiety and mistrust. Where Spirit Level was much more statistical and aimed at a societal level, Inner Level is much more individual, and much more accessible and relevant to all people. In some regards Inner Level isn’t so much a sequal or follow-up but an advanced expansion that would be totally appropriate to pick up first if desired.
Furthermore where Inner Level expands on solutions and possible positive change, which while not a lot different to the Spirit Levels findings did feel much more productively and hopefully presented.
For anyone concerned that the issue is just the far left of politics I would emplore a reconsideration. Wealth inequality, while obviously tied deeply to politics is much deeper and more concerning. There isn’t any hopefuly communist or marxist sentiment in this book – although there is a little longing for egalitarian times of hunter gatherers (a different topic I have much interest in).
To me the issue of wealth inequality isn’t so much about fairness or rescuing the poor (although both are good things) wealth inequality is in fact harmful for all people, even the ultra-wealthy whose positions are much more unstable and let’s face it no matter how rich you are you still have to live in a world filled with the 99% and if 99% of people are miserable, times are not going to be great.
My final thought NOT from the Inner Level, but a thesis I have myself, that addressing wealth inquality will in fact financially and ecomocially benefit the 1% anyway – I don’t think its a question of spreading the currently wealth around but rather organizing ourselves in a way that generates wealth more equally – which would in fact create more wealth to go to the top 1% right? (this is at the very least what I would say to some hugely weathly individual who was concerned)
In summary this is a super accessible and super important book. Wealth inequality has impacts on almost all elements of human experience, from climate change, prejudice, mental and physical health, yet its an area not often (although more often than 10 years ago) spoken of when trying to solve all the problems of the world.