Unequal and Unhappy | Aaron Pacitti

January 7, 2015 8:08 PM

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Over the past 35 years, Americans have become $27 trillion wealthier. That's an extra $90,000 per person, or $360,000 for a family of four. But it doesn't seem to be making us better off. Accompanying this impressive increase in wealth has been an increase in the number of anxiety disorders. Stress-induced obesity has exploded. One in ten people experience depression. Scholars who study happiness find that in spite of our greater wealth there has not been in increase in aggregate happiness. Why hasn't more wealth improved our subjective well-being?

Part of the stagnation, if not decline, in well-being is traceable to the fact that most Americans got none of the massive increase in wealth. The top one percent took half of the total wealth gains and the richest 40 percent took the remaining amount, leaving virtually nothing for the bottom 60 per...

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