Income inequality makes the 1% sad, too

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“Income inequality makes the 1% sad, too”

Fucking hilarious…


Just eyeballing that graph, that doesn’t look like a very strong correlation, especially if you leave out those manic pixie Scandinavians.


That was my thought as well.

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Years ago, a series on heart disease on CBC’s Ideas explained that the only correlation between anything and heart disease that showed a clear relationship was the income ratio between the richest and the poorest. The greater the difference, the greater the rate of heart disease, for the entire population, not just the poor people.

Tax the rich, it’s really for their own good.


Socialist Rhetoric Daedalus: “This is because they can smell the blood in the water and fear that they’re next! Tax them for their own good!”

Amateur Experience Psychology Daedalus: “I suppose being the gilded king of a shit-pile still means you live on a shit-pile.”

Wistful Daedalus:


Roger That!

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Given the correlation between income inequality and height, and the one between income inequality and heart disease mentioned by @thaumatechnicia, I don’t think this is an illusory connection. Especially considering that they don’t include a lot of the worst countries in the world to live that also have the worst income inequality (relatively poor nations ruled by kleptocrats). We see South Korea, but not North Korea - how concentrated in wealth (e.g. for wealth = power to command labour of others) there?

I also don’t think that leaving out Scandinavians makes sense. They aren’t outliers, they are just examples where we can see how the mechanism of equality to happiness works. Keep in mind they don’t get a lot of sun up there. In the 90s the Finnish government introduced widespread promotion of social dancing to try to deal with their considerable suicide problem. It’s not like living in Scandinavia is the one weird trick to being happy


The Scandinavian countries have some of the lowest income inequality ratios in the world. That list include Japan, a country with low rates of heart disease.

You can start here:
Diez-Roux et al - A multilevel analysis of income inequality and cardiovascular disease risk factors. Link goes to a PDF copy of this study.

I’m sure other studies are as easy to find as this one.

Wealthy people want to enjoy their money. I’m guessing it’s harder to do that once you cross that 15% line when your life can involve commuting via helicopter or armed convoy from gated suburb to fortified office tower for fear of kidnapping (as is the case in Brazil or South Africa or probably Colombia). Every bodyguard on your family’s payroll must make life less fun despite the money.

The other side of the line is more interesting. My first guess would be that the variance has something to do with availability of social services, rule of law, and relative lack of corruption. I also suspect that a greater respect for work-life balance comes into play. Within Europe below the 10% the more secular societies seem happier than the ones where the Catholic Church still holds a lot of sway.

And, crossing back over the 15% line to the U.S., I suppose there’s something to be said for delusional positive thinking.


Well shoot, here I was, looking forward to being rich and happy after winning tonight’s big Powerball jackpot. Now I’m wondering whether I shouldn’t just skip the win.


I didn’t mean to say it’s a fake correlation, just that it’s kind of weak. The US is a major outlier - maybe our bread and circuses are better, I dunno.

Also, the bit about Scandinavia was an ill-advised private joke, since I myself have a Scandinavian surname. My great-grandparents fled Norway seeking freedom from modular furniture, I think.


do you plan a move to South America, Africa or the Middle East?


Well, I might have gone overboard with “illusory” but I guess when I hear “weak” I think “too weak to pay much attention to.” There are only so many countries in the world, so you end up with these graphs with like 20 points on them. By some standards the correlations are never going to be that great. But I would wager that if you put this correlation up against other social/economic well-being indicators that are supposedly correlated, you’d find it’s pretty strong, relatively speaking.


I’ve (badly) cobbled together two off-Wikipedia maps, the upper is the Happy Planet Index, the lower the GINI Index. There’s a rough correlation of Happiness and GINI.

To bad they didn’t use the same color. If I put some effort into it, I could swap some of the colours so they do, but you’ll get the idea.

The Happy Planet Index is on top - the scale goes from brown/unhappy to yellow to green(happy).
The GINI Index goes from black(low GINI) to red to yellow(high GINI).
The gray areas are ‘no data’.

You may notice two things: China seems to be a bit of an outlier: they have inequality egual to the USA but are happier than Americans. That, and Uzbekistan seems to be a really unequal, sad place to live.
I’ve got a new tourist ad campaign for Uzbekistan:
Xush kelibsiz! We make Kazakhstan look like a Paradise! Mening kayiqim baliq bilan to’lgan!


As a rich person, it makes me sad that the seething mass of you Moochers will never taste the good things in life, on account of you people not being smart or hard-working enough to inherit wealth like I did, as my father did before me.

The answer to “What happened to the Meritocracy?” is “You people happened”. Don’t get me wrong. I’m on your side here. I’m just saying that it’s all your fault.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go donate a bunch of money to Yale so that my son can get in. Thick as a brick, that one is, but somehow he’ll still succeed. God Bless America!


I’ve seen some discussion about why the US is such an outlier (in this and other contexts having to do with happiness), and it has to do with the central importance of the “pursuit of happiness” narrative in US culture. In the US, if you aren’t happy, to some degree it’s tantamount to admitting you’re a failure in life (whereas in some countries, personal happiness is seen as somewhat suspect, with those countries ranking lower than one might otherwise expect). In the US there’s evidence that people misreport their personal happiness when asked about it.



I think that’s rather the booze and weak bladders…


“Trickle Down” is nothing more than piss’ola into the faces of working Americans.