Cover image for The health of nations : why inequality is harmful to your health
The health of nations : why inequality is harmful to your health
Kawachi, Ichirō.
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Publication Information:
New York : New Press : Distributed by W.W. Norton, [2002]

Physical Description:
viii, 232 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
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RA418.5.P6 K39 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Praised by The Lancet , which called it a "lucid account that . . . deserves to be read by everybody interested in the politics of health," and the New England Journal of Medicine , The Health of Nations provides powerful evidence that growing inequality is undermining health, welfare, and community life in America. The book's prizewinning authors also make an urgent argument for social justice as a necessary vehicle for the betterment of society.

The Health of Nations is the synthesis of years of groundbreaking research on the connections between social structures and health and welfare, and one which Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen says "has much to offer in reshaping the agenda of the debate on health care." Now in a revised edition which includes a new afterword, it dramatically demonstrates that growing inequalities, far from being a benign by-product of capitalism, threaten the very freedoms that economic development is thought to bring about.

Author Notes

Ichiro Kawachi is the director of the Harvard Center for Society and Health, and an associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Following up on studies like The Loss of Happiness in Market Democracies, The Health of Nations: Why Inequality Is Harmful to Your Health is a timely summation of recent economic research that shows how extreme prosperity always comes at the expense of others' poverty and perhaps of one's own well-being. Ichiro Kawachi, director of the Harvard Center for Society and Health, and Harvard School of Public Health professor Bruce P. Kennedy focus on how (as any Buddhist will tell you) "merely wishing for more money seems to lead to unhappiness" and, looking internationally, ask "are we happier and healthier [as Americans] as a result of all our consumption and accumulation?" Their counterintuitive answer is a resounding "no." (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Introductionp. 1
1. Economic Goals and "The Permanent Problem of the Human Race"p. 9
Living in the Material Worldp. 9
Unbalanced Consumption: The Case of World Hungerp. 15
"The Permanent Problem of the Human Race"p. 18
Judging the Great American Growth Machinep. 20
2. Prosperity and Happinessp. 29
Does Money Buy Happiness?p. 29
Why Happiness Is Not Enoughp. 38
3. Prosperity and Healthp. 43
The Health of Nationsp. 43
The Relative Income Hypothesisp. 50
Poverty as a Relative Conceptp. 54
What Explains Socioeconomic Differences in Health?p. 59
4. Keeping up with the [Dow] Jonesesp. 65
Prosperity and the Rise of Consumer Societyp. 65
Critiques of the Consumer Culturep. 74
Consumer Culture and Consumer Debtp. 77
Consumer Debt and the Charity Crunchp. 82
5. Inequality: The Private and Public Price We Payp. 85
Is Inequality Good for Productivity?p. 85
Winner-Take-All Marketsp. 92
The Dysfunctions of Inequality: A Rebuttal to Davis and Moorep. 100
Inequality and Death Revisitedp. 101
6. Stepping on the Hedonic Treadmillp. 109
Working Harder, Feeling Worsep. 111
The Time Squeezep. 116
Spending Time with Your Loved Ones Can Improve Your Healthp. 120
Failing to Achieve the American Dream: The Costs of Social Exclusionp. 129
7. The Social Costs of Consumptionp. 137
Material Goods and Positional Goodsp. 137
Positional Competitionp. 141
Suburban Sprawlp. 143
The Rise of Gated Communitiesp. 148
The Roseto Effectp. 155
Recapitulationp. 158
8. Politics and Healthp. 161
The Politics of Rich and Poorp. 161
Political Ideology and Healthp. 168
Inequalities in Political Participationp. 170
Social Capital and Political Participationp. 173
Social Capital and Healthp. 180
Income Inequality and Social Capitalp. 185
9. Conclusionp. 191
Referencesp. 203
Indexp. 221