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By every measure that matters, relatively equal nations far outperform nations where income and wealth concentrate at the top. A powerful new analysis from the UK explores these contrasts — and explains them.
Huge numbers of people in the United States hold prescriptions for anti-depressants. Huge numbers of other Americans “self-medicate” — through illegal drugs and alcohol. Huge numbers of Americans, in other words, are feeling plenty of pain. Why? What’s causing all this anguish?
Our conventional wisdom blames the grind of our always-on-the-go modern existence, the stresses and strains of life in the fast lane. The conventional wisdom, suggests a new book by British epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, has that half-right. Stress is indeed doing us in. But that stress doesn’t come from “modern life.”
That stress comes from inequality, the vast gaps in income and wealth that so divide us. continue reading

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