Throughout the world's first industrial revolution, which took place in Britain, economic growth rates rarely exceeded 1 percent a year. Growth rates now have to be at least three times that to be regarded as respectable, and a few countries grow ten times as fast. The contrast between the material success and social failure of modern societies is a profound paradox, and people have little understanding of the causal processes responsible for it. In an affluent world, surely social life would become marked by an unstinted human warmth and generosity. Health and illness reflect the nature of the interface between ourselves and the environment. Recent research has revealed that some intensely social factors are among the most important determinants of health in the rich countries. Social status differentials have a huge impact on whether people feel valued, appreciated, and needed or, on the other hand, looked down on, ignored, treated as insignificant, disrespected, stigmatized, and humiliated.