Income Inequality Makes People Happy When It Gives Them Hope

(p. A19) If the royal family were to utilize Kate’s background to help encourage and spread this culture of entrepreneurship, the effects in Britain–and possibly much of the world–could be incredible. The people of the United Kingdom would be much richer, and not just in material terms. “Earned success gives people a sense of meaning about their lives,” writes the social scientist Arthur Brooks, who is president of the American Enterprise Institute think tank.

Indeed, studies show that in both the U.S. and U.K., many blue- and white-collar workers prefer to have the opportunity to advance, even if this means a less equal income distribution. A study of thousands of British employees by Andrew Clark, associate chair of the Paris School of Economics, found that measures of these workers’ happiness actually rose as their demographic group’s average income increased relative to their own.

These findings suggests that as people see members of their peer group gain wealth–even surpassing them–it gives them hope that they can improve their lot as well. As Mr. Clark put it in his study of British workers, “income inequality . . . need not be harmful for economic growth” if it “contains an aspect of opportunity.”

For the full story, see:
JOHN BERLAU. “The Entrepreneurs’ Princess; For centuries in Britain, commercial activities were looked down upon by the aristocracy, whose wealth lay in landownership.” Wall Street Journal (Thurs., APRIL 28, 2011): A17.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.