Book report: The Spirit Level

Groping towards Bethlehem

The Spirit Level puts forth the thesis that more-equal societies are better places for everyone; rich and poor both suffer from inequality. It marshalls many graphs and references to support the thesis. There seem to be two problems with the book. One, the authors are in love with their big idea, and make all the details fall in behind. Two, the data don’t necessarily support the thesis.

The book has been discussed, debated, debunked, and defended extensively, so I do wonder what I can constructively and accurately add. Let me start with some key links:

  • The Equality Trust was founded to support the work of the authors to reduce inequality.
  • The TaxPayers’ Alliance has taken on the book, its arguments, and its referencing. They found major problems with the research, including misrepresenting the findings of academic papers, cherry-picking of data, and non-replicability of findings.
  • The Spirit Level Delusion is a book and blog that…

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