The authors quash myths and misconceptions about the notion of meritocracy ... Although numerous charts and graphs interspersed throughout a heavily referenced discussion can make for a slow reading experience, the message is clear and critically important: embrace egalitarianism—for better health and quality of life.
Much of the heavy lifting of analysis and argument has already been done in the previous book [The Spirit Level], and this one contains more opinion, speculation and arguable interpretation of evidence, as the authors wander off briefly into different fields of inquiry ... For all the power of the book’s data and charts the reader may remain unconvinced that inequality explains everything bad, and greater equality explains everything good, about happiness levels in different countries ... But, the authors argue, capitalism also needs to be overthrown because climate change demands a social revolution ... this nice rhetoric is a bit woolly, and short on persuasive details of how a zero-carbon, zero-growth nirvana may be achieved.
The Inner Level is not a page-turner in the usual sense. But it holds readers’ attention by elaborating a phenomenon most will already have observed, and by providing an explanation for the dysfunction they see around them, from the brazen disregard for rules among many corporate and political leaders to the nihilism of drug addicts and school-shooters. And yet the idea that inequality alone is responsible for all this, and that reducing inequality will solve it, does not in the end convince. That is partly because the authors are not always as circumspect with their evidence as they should be ... Reversing the cycle of institutional fraying, gaping inequality and mental distress seems likely to require a much broader civic rejuvenation.