In her recent article on happiness, Elizabeth Kolbert quotes former Harvard president Derek Bok:

If rising incomes have failed to make Americans happier over the last fifty years, what is the point of working such long hours and risking environmental disaster in order to keep on doubling and redoubling our Gross Domestic Product?

Wilkinson replies:

There are many, many other benefits of economic growth. People live longer and a greater proportion of the population is likely to get a good education. Growth promotes tolerance and inclusiveness, and a history of ongoing growth tends to produce cultures that cares less about the material side of life and more about justice and the less tangible aspects of  a good life. And then there’s the fact that the United States is a notable exception to the general rule that increasing wealth is paired with increasing average levels of national happiness.

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