Rich countries that let inequality run rampant make citizens unhappy, study finds

Read the Story

Show Top Comments

No shit! This article is like saying , those who spend too much time in the Sun may get burned….. I The article focuses on the wrong thing about inequality , which is the poor thanks to overpriced housing , energy, food are forced to become even poorer just to exist


This is the scary thing, when inequality gets to be too much the people at the bottom will inevitably try to destroy the system. At this point the ruling class can either give ground to resolve grievances (never happened). Or they can externalize these anger and grievances which requires an external enemy or a new promise. Which usually leads to war and genocide. In theory, the countries that are ruled by clear headed individuals will delay the inequality to slow down the build up of internal pressures. All they have to do to win is be the last to implode.


Is this necessarily true? Was China included? I argue it’s the ability for average citizens to succeed rather than inequality. Inequality was certainly a problem but I think the real problem which isn’t being addressed is the ability to succeed. The US has always an aggressive inequality coefficient especially for the bottom quintile, but up until I guess recent decades it was possible to become fairly successful through hardwork. It is certainly more difficult now and I think that breeds a lot of unhappiness. For example for small businesses they are hugely disadvantaged today without an HR and legal department – a lot of pitfalls that can trap businesses without HR and legal resources…


Here’in lies the rub – taking a step back, what are we solving for / answer with this info? To me – the Q is, are people on whole (total pop.) better? & here’s a questionnaire to score it. Are all people as a whole doing better or worse say given 25-50 YRS time series? Parameters are: Human species living, quality of life, age, health, all of it. Clearly the answer is yes. Argue small points but in the aggregate by almost all measures – yes. Here’in lies the rub – people, perception & cognitive interpretation given our reptilian dominance hierarchy. – 100 yrs ago I’d have been dead by now through nature given my caste, but I’m alive with quality of life not afforded in previous generations given a time series comparison, it’s only my interpretation of that happiness in relation to my population within my current time series that drives satisfaction levels. It’s the perception driving the questionnaire.


Is there an actual paper here? I searched around, including looking up the author in Google Scholar, and it doesn’t seem to be public yet. > Any country that moved from the lowest quarter of countries in terms of inequality to the highest quarter saw a decrease in life satisfaction of about 0.4 on the 10-point scale, he found. It’s unclear whether this is about market income inequality or post-transfer inequality. Post-transfer inequality is something that is somewhat more malleable via policy levers, but market income inequality is mostly an emergent phenomenon, and treating it as an exogenous variable leads to bad analyses. Fun fact: France actually has the highest market income inequality of any wealthy country in the OECD. Anyway, post-transfer income inequality is largely a policy choice about the extent to which people should keep what they earn and pay for what they use. But high market income inequality is a symptom of a society in which many people are highly productive and many people are not. This naturally leads to the questions about why so many people have low marginal product, and whether the same factors that cause this also cause other social problems commonly attributed to inequality. For example, it’s often asserted that inequality causes crime, and to some extent that may be true, but it’s also true that crime causes inequality. Crime doesn’t pay well (what little it does pay rarely shows up in income data), and it getting caught hurts your future career prospects. Plus there may be an element of social contagion. Furthermore, personality and cognitive traits that predispose people to committing crimes also tend to make them less employable, even without criminal records. So there are highly plausible routes through which income inequality can be correlated with crime without actually causing crime. I’m not saying that income inequality definitely doesn’t cause any of the various social ills it’s claimed to cause, just that there are plausible alternative hypotheses to explain the relation observed, and that most of the research on the topic is kind of crap and doesn’t really give due consideration to the difficulty of correctly identifying the casual relationships at play. Is this one of those papers? I don’t know. I couldn’t find it.