To the Editors:

When Anthony Daniels reviewed my book Mind the Gap: Hierarchies, Health and Human Evolution (February 2001), he got me badly wrong. Many of us started out with ideas rather like his, but research over the last twenty years has made those views untenable. My book explains why it is the most egalitarian, not the richest, countries in the developed world that are the healthiest.

The United States is richer and spends much more on medical care than any other country in the developed world. Yet its life expectancy is lower than in some twenty other developed countries. Several dozen research papers using different data sets show that societies with larger income differences between rich and poor tend to be less healthy. This is not about comparisons between what we have and some unreachable total equality. It involves comparisons between existing societies. Societies with narrower income differences, like Japan and Sweden, are healthier than the...

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