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Unhappiness

We Americans are unhappy. We are not happy about America. We are not happy about ourselves in relation to America. We are nervous — or gloomy — or apathetic. ...
As we look toward the future — our own future and the future of other nations — we are filled with foreboding.
- Henry Luce, The American Century, Life, Feb. 17, 1941


It is of course well-known that social capital in the United States has been in decline for several decades now. Robert Putnam’s pioneering research played a http://major role in opening the eyes of Americans to the fraying of social ties. In recent years, the evidence of social crises has become overwhelming, across every aspect of social life. A small group at the top of the income distribution has continued to make striking gains in wealth and income, while the rest of society has faced economic stagnation or decline, worsening public health indicators including rising rates of drug addiction and suicide, and declining social trust.
- JEFFREY D. SACHS, RESTORING AMERICAN HAPPINESS, Chapter 7 of World Happiness Report 2017


The most striking fact about happiness in America is the Easterlin Paradox: income per capita has more than doubled since 1972 while happiness (or subjective well-being, SWB) has remained roughly unchanged or has even declined (Figure 7.1).
- Jeffrey D. Sachs, America’s Health Crisis and the Easterlin Paradox, Chapter 7 of World Happiness Report 2018


In America (and also in other countries), an impressive postwar rise in material well-being has had zero effect on personal well-being. The divergence between economic growth and subjective satisfaction began decades ago. Real per capita income has more than tripled since the late 1950s, but the percentage of people saying they are very happy has, if anything, slightly declined.
- Jonathan Rauch, Why Prosperity Has Increased but Happiness Has Not, NYT, Aug. 21, 2018





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