Robert Skidelsky: Happiness is Equality


Put another way, what matters for life satisfaction is the growth not of mean income but of median income – the income of the typical person. Consider a population of ten people (say, a factory) in which the managing director earns $150,000 a year and the other nine, all workers, earn $10,000 each. The mean average of their incomes is $25,000, but 90% earn $10,000. With this kind of income distribution, it would be surprising if growth increased the typical person’s sense of well-being.

That is not an idle example. In rich societies over the last three decades, mean incomes have been rising steadily, but typical incomes have been stagnating or even falling. In other words, a minority – a very small minority in countries like the United States and Britain – has captured most of the gains of growth. In such cases, it is not more growth that we want, but more equality.


(Robert Skidelsky; deutsche Übersetzung in der FTD.)

(Kommentarfunktion z.Zt. deaktiviert.)