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Inequality Is Up? But So Is Happiness

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A prominent researcher at Cal Tech reports surprising data contradicting common liberal assumptions that inequality brings misery. Gaps between rich and poor grew dramatically during the recession but Steven Quartz reports “the percentage of Americans who say they are thriving has actually increased.”  What’s more, “happiness inequality” has gone down: men have no longer report less happiness than women, while the differences between blacks and whites are also smaller. How have happiness and satisfaction increased simultaneously with inequality?  Professor Quartz cites definitions of status, but there’s a simpler answer: most people don’t evaluate their own lives by focusing on others who have more. Compared to 30 years ago, All Americans have more choices – even the poor own cars, air-conditioners, home entertainment centers, and often send their kids to community college or even four year universities. The key to happiness isn’t enforced equality – it’s economic growth and the additional choices that come with it. 

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  1. Bill in Greenwood Village  •  Apr 15, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    Almost making the case to keep current leadership. Seems that if happiness is up despite the lackluster economic growth, what motive do voters have to change leadership, vote the current Democrats out and usher in Republicans? Is the increase in happiness a “macro” trend brought about by overall increases in conveniences once considered luxuries?

  2. mark  •  Apr 16, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    Recently I have read about the benefits of happiness in health and finance. Being unhappy isn’t anything to smile about in ways people are starting to realize. This makes answering a question about happiness a bit complicated. You don’t want to admit to a survey or possibly yourself that you are a bit blue. Probably, was always true but more so when data suggests that happiness is even more important than you realized. The other factor is distraction. Amusing ourselves till death rings true to me.

  3. jeff antes  •  Apr 25, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    I remember the wise advice once said about happiness its a sereous problem.
    For most of us anyway {dennis Prager] A small paper back book full of wisdom

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