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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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