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Guest Post at Sheril Kirshenbaum’s Culture of Science

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a scientist and science writer/blogger who writes for her personal blog, Below is an excerpt from an article I wrote for Sheril’s blog, which ran today.

Everything in the United States is better since the end of the World War Two. Purchasing power, average income and the GDP have increased. Technology, healthcare and education have improved. Social rights including those of women, minorities and homosexuals have been ameliorated. And, moreover, we aren’t losing hundreds of soldiers a day to a global war.

Everything is better except, paradoxically, the average well-being of Americans.

The famous Easterlin paradox highlighted this several decades ago. It found that, “at a point in time both among and within nations, happiness varies directly with income, but over time, happiness does not increase when a country’s income increases.” In other words, while the United States GDP has more than quadrupled since the 1950s, reports of subjective happiness haven’t budged.


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