Class and the Happiness of Nations

More

Over the past week, I've discussed the role of class in economic performance, innovation, and entrepreneurship. But what about happiness?

There is considerable debate over the happiness of nations. The Easterlin paradox suggests that there is little or no relationship between a country's economic development and its level of happiness in comparison to others. An influential paper by economists Justin Wolfers and Betsey Stevenson contradicts the Easterlin paradox, finding a clear relationship between economic development (measured as GDP per capita) and happiness. In other words, countries that increase their wealth become happier, and countries that increase their wealth more than other nations become happier than others.

But what about the effects of class on happiness? Are societies in which a greater share of workers are members of the creative class on balance happier than those with large working class populations?

To get at this, Charlotta Mellander used data on happiness - measured as overall life satisfaction - from the Gallup Organization's World Poll.

The results could not be more striking. Happy nations appear to be creative class nations.

Nations with a large concentration of the working class are far less happy. In fact they appear downright unhappy. Perhaps Marx was right after all about the alienation that comes from industrial work - or, in this case, the unhappiness found in working class locations.

Source of all graphics: Martin Prosperity Institute

We'll be doing more on the connection between class structure and the happiness of nations in the future, so stay tuned.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Richard Florida is Co-founder and Editor at Large of CityLab.com and Senior Editor at The Atlantic. He is director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto and Global Research Professor at NYU. More

Florida is author of The Rise of the Creative ClassWho's Your City?, and The Great Reset. He's also the founder of the Creative Class Group, and a list of his current clients can be found here
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in National

From This Author

Just In