The book, based on thirty years of research, discusses two profoundly important discoveries about human societies:
- More equal societies have lower rates of heart disease, crime, drug abuse, obesity, mental illness and other social ills than less equal societies, and
- The rates are lower not only for the poor but for the rich as well, i.e. everyone benefits from equality.
The authors determined that if the United States, the most unequal of the rich countries, reduced its income inequality to the average of the four most equal of the rich countries (Japan, Norway, Sweden and Finland), the proportion of Americans who felt they could trust others might rise by 75 per cent, rates of mental illness and obesity drop by two-thirds, teenage birth rates by half, the prison population by 75 per cent, and people could live longer while working less.
The most mind-expanding book I have ever read is Richard Dawkin's The Selfish Gene, which astonished me by revealing the purpose of life. This book isn't that astonishing but it is a groundbreaking work that challenges governments to seriously rethink their social policies based on a paradigm of equality. Apparently the authors had considered calling it Evidence-based Politics. They certainly provide the evidence.