The Broken Ladder: How Inequality Changes The Way We Think, Live And Die by Keith Payne

The Blurb On The Back:

Inequality makes us feel poor and act poor, even when we’re not.  It affects our mood, decision-making and even our immune systems.

Using groundbreaking research in psychology and neuroscience, Keith Payne explains how inequality shapes our world and influences our thinking, how we perform at work and respond to stress – and what we can do to combat its most insidious effects on our lives.

You can order THE BROKEN LADDER: HOW INEQUALITY CHANGES THE WAY WE THINK, LIVE AND DIE by Keith Payne from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

Keith Payne is a Professor of Psychology at the University of North Carolina and an expert in the psychology of inequality and discrimination and in this fascinating, eye-opening, must-read book that has completely changed the way I think about the subject, he sets out in easy-to-understand chapters just how deeply inequality permeates society, influencing decisions, opportunities and even health.

Payne draws on his own family background as a framing device for the book and some of the most effective chapters are those where he shares his experiences notably early on where he describes how a lunch lady made him realise that he and his family were poor and how that changed his perception of his relationship and status with other people but also through the comparisons between the way his life turned out compared to his brother.

The chapters themselves each take different aspects of inequality in income distribution to understand its impact on individuals, with chapters focusing on each of the effects of feeling poor, why human beings compare themselves to others, the internal logic of being poor, how inequality shapes and influences politics, the impact of inequality on life expectancy, inequality and religion, racial and economic inequality and fair pay. There’s a lot of statistics and economic and social theory in the book but Payne writes in an accessible and easy to understand way and I was particularly startled at how applicable many of the concepts were to my own life (notably the way people inevitably compare themselves to others and how that impacts on their decision making).

Inequality is a hot topic at the moment and I think that this book adds a lot to the topic beyond the dry economics and I think really brings home why it is such an issue and such a tragedy.  This is a fascinating, informative and human book and one that I think a lot of people would benefit by reading and as such, it’s one of my must-reads for 2018 and will ensure that I will check out Payne’s other work.

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

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