What: "The Spirit Level" highlights the "pernicious effects that inequality has on societies: eroding trust, increasing anxiety and illness, (and) encouraging excessive consumption". It shows that for each of eleven different health and social problems: physical health, mental health, drug abuse, education, imprisonment, obesity, social mobility, trust and community life, violence, teenage pregnancies, and child well-being, outcomes are significantly worse in more unequal rich countries. As of September 2012, the book had sold more than 150,000 copies in English. It is available in 23 foreign editions.
How: The Independent described it as "an intellectual flagship of post-crisis compassion, this reader-friendly fusion of number-crunching and moral uplift has helped steer a debate about the route to a kinder, fairer nation." Will Hutton in The Observer described it as "A remarkable new book ...the implications are profound." Roy Hattersley in the New Statesman called it "a crucial contribution to the ideological argument."