Income Inequality and Happiness

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A new study finds that lower-income Americans are happier when the gap between the rich and poor is smaller… for those at the top, there’s no difference. The study, to be published in Psychological Science, might help explain why, despite the US’s growing overall wealth, many people aren’t happier. After all, it’s hard to keep your chin up when the top 10% of the country pulls in $164,647 a year while the bottom 90% only earns around $31,244. That disparity—seeing just how much more others have—was responsible for people in the lower and middle classes feeling more distrustful during times of greater income inequality. It wasn’t so much their own earnings as seeing them in comparison to others’ that made them feel things weren’t fair. The distrust and feeling of unfairness were what resulted in feelings of unhappiness, not earning less. Correspondingly, the happiness of those in the upper classes was not affected by income inequality. 

The study followed 48,000 people over 37 years. And the current state of income inequality did not go unnoticed by the researchers. Their suggestion for making things more equitable? Better taxation. Let’s see how that goes over in 2012. 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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