Why Prosperity Has Increased but Happiness Has Not

One would assume that there is a correlation between happiness and prosperity. But statistics do not bear this out. Economy-wise, people have more goods and prospects than of yore. Yet their happiness quotient is the same, or marginally less, for many. It seems to have something to do with context. If you are in a locality where everyone is doing badly, it may not be so notable to you that you are doing not so well. On the other hand, if you have a calamity that leaves you fiscally in a lurch, while others appear to go on without turmoil, you are of course not happy. We are, logically, or not, creatures that compare our circumstances and selves with others. And there is nowadays, more than ever, lots of ways to do just that. Happiness too is relative. It is very dependent on what we see and know about our surroundings and what we have experienced in the past.

Reflect on these key points:

  • 1Data shows that even with a significant uptick in prosperity, most polled individuals do not feel happier, and a significant number feel less so.
  • 2This is true despite the fact that per capita income has more than tripled since 1950.
  • 3Often happiness has more to do with how one interprets their state in comparison to their surroundings, rather than merely focusing on how they individually are doing and feeling.

“In America (and also in other countries), an impressive postwar rise in material well-being has had zero effect on personal well-being. The divergence between economic growth and subjective satisfaction began decades ago.”

Read the full story: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/21/opinion/happiness-inequality-prosperity-.html