Events | Inequality and Poverty

Why more equal societies almost always do better

Date: January 19, 2010

Presented by the Economic Policy Institute, Institute for America’s Future and Institute for Policy Studies

Listen to this event (80 minutes)
[listen (streaming)] [download MP3 audio]

Where in the developed world do people live the longest? Where do people born at the bottom of the economic ladder have the best shot at climbing up? In which nations do children do best in school? Which countries send the most people to prison; have the teenage pregnancies and suffer the most homicides? The answers matter and are indicative of a society’s overall health and the quality of life for its citizens.  That is the contention of eminent British epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, authors of The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger.

This event was held on Jan. 19, 2010, the morning after the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Wilkinson and Pickett were joined by Barbara Ehrenreich, Harry Holzer, and EPI’s Elise Gould to discuss this important new work.


Richard Wilkinson has played a formative role in international research and his work has been published in 10 languages. He studied economic history at the London School of Economics before training in epidemiology and is Professor Emeritus at the University of Nottingham Medical School and Honorary Professor at University College London.

Kate Pickett is a Senior Lecturer at the University of York and a National Institute for Health Research Career Scientist. She studied physical anthropology at Cambridge, nutritional sciences at Cornell and epidemiology at Berkeley before spending four years as an Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago.


Barbara Ehrenreich is the author of thirteen books, including the New York Times bestseller Nickel and Dimed. A frequent contributor to the New York Times, Harpers, and the Progressive, she is a contributing writer to Time magazine. She lives in Florida.

Harry Holzer is a Professor of Public Policy at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute and serves as a Fellow at several prestigious research and academic institutions. Prior to coming to Georgetown, Professor Holzer served as Chief Economist for the U.S. Department of Labor. Over most of his career, Professor Holzer’s research has focused primarily on the low-wage labor market, and particularly the problems of minority workers in urban areas.


Elise Gould is the Director of Health Policy Research at the Economic Policy Institute. (full bio)

Review more events in our Audio/Video Archive

See related work on Wages, Incomes, and Wealth | Inequality and Poverty

See more work by Elise Gould