April 6, 2012

Average Income And Happiness

Average Income and Happiness in The US, 1957-2002
“In recent years, psychologists studying measures of life satisfaction have largely confirmed the old adage that money can’t buy happiness—at least not for people who are already affluent.” - WorldWatch Institute

2011 was a record year for billionaires. The total number of listees on the Billionaires List was a new record at 1,210, and their combined wealth of $4.5 trillion was a record as well. But did this massive accumulation of wealth help contribute to making last year a record year for happiness?

The World Health Organization doesn't think so, and reports that depression is among the leading causes of disability worldwide.

What I see is that wealth is going up, and well-being is going down. That is also what the WorldWatch Institute is reporting.
"Societies focused on well-being involve more interaction with family, friends, and neighbors, a more direct experience of nature, and more attention to finding fulfillment and creative expression than in accumulating goods.
They emphasize lifestyles that avoid abusing your own health, other people, or the natural world. In short, they yield a deeper sense of satisfaction with life than many people report experiencing today.

What provides for a satisfying life? In recent years, psychologists studying measures of life satisfaction have largely confirmed the old adage that money can’t buy happiness—at least not for people who are already affluent.

The disconnection between money and happiness in wealthy countries is perhaps most clearly illustrated when growth in income in industrial countries is plotted against levels of happiness.
In the United States, for example, the average person’s income more than doubled between 1957 and 2002, yet the share of people reporting themselves to be “very happy” over that period remained static."
If incomes doubled since 1957, why didn't happiness? Because happiness, beyond a minimal level of wealth, does not improve with each additional dollar earned over and above the level of 'enough'. Rather, each additional dollar earned suffers from diminishing returns - less bang per buck.

While business magazines raucously ring in the arrival of each newly-minted billionaire, they fail to recognize the insidious grief caused by the unbelievable inequality.

Our increasing wealth has had little effect on happiness and well-being. It is time to start demanding changes to the way we run our countries and economies so that the well-being of all becomes our focus, rather than how many billionaires a country has, or how much its GDP has grown.

1 comment:

  1. Money can't buy happiness. But it sure buys the kind of misery you can live with.


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