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The Inner Level

How More Equal Societies Reduce Stress, Restore Sanity and Improve Everyone's Well-Being
Narrated by: Shridhar Solanki
Length: 11 hrs and 29 mins
Regular price: $28.00
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Publisher's Summary

A groundbreaking investigation of how inequality infects our minds and gets under our skin.

Why are people more relaxed and at ease with each other in some countries than others? Why do we worry so much about what others think of us and often feel social life is a stressful performance? Why is mental illness three times as common in the US as in Germany? Why is the American dream more of a reality in Denmark than the US? What makes child well-being so much worse in some countries than others? As The Inner Level demonstrates, the answer to all these is inequality. 

In The Spirit Level, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett put inequality at the center of public debate by showing conclusively that less equal societies fare worse than more equal ones across everything from education to life expectancy. The Inner Level now explains how inequality affects us individually, altering how we think, feel, and behave. It sets out the overwhelming evidence that material inequities have powerful psychological effects: When the gap between rich and poor increases, so does the tendency to define and value ourselves and others in terms of superiority and inferiority. A deep well of data and analysis is drawn upon to empirically show, for example, that low social status leads to elevated levels of stress hormones and how rates of anxiety, depression, and addictions are intimately related to the inequality that makes that status paramount.

Wilkinson and Pickett describe how these responses to hierarchies evolved and why the impacts of inequality on us are so severe. In doing so, they challenge the conception that humans are inescapably competitive and self-interested. They undermine, too, the idea that inequality is the product of "natural" differences in individual ability. This audiobook draws together many of the most urgent problems facing societies today, but it is not just an index of our ills. It demonstrates that societies based on fundamental equalities, sharing, and reciprocity generate much higher levels of well-being and lays out the path toward them.

©2019 Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“Anyone who cares about the quality of our collective lives should be stunned by a profound finding: as societies become more unequal, they become less healthy, happy, safe and kind. And this does not just apply to those have-nots below society’s radar; it impacts everyone. For years, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett have been the scientists most responsible for these findings, and in The Inner Level, they confront many of our most urgent problems in a clear, compelling way, one that generates a sense of moral outrage at the damage wrought by inequality.” (Robert Sapolsky, author of Behave)

“Humanity prefers equal wealth distributions yet builds economies with ever larger income disparities. Wilkinson and Pickett present a wealth of evidence to show that this development is not good for our health, because inequality produces stress and gnaws at trust. It does so universally and even in some other species. Those who believe that we need to follow 'the law of the strongest' may simply have human biology wrong.” (Frans de Waal, author of Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are)

"The question of inequality is likely to play a bigger role in the next election than it has for more than a generation. It would be better for all of us if that debate was informed by robust statistical analysis rather than the emotive politics of envy. Any politician wishing to do so would be wise to read Wilkinson and Pickett's books." (Andrew Anthony, Observer)

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