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Paradoxes of Happiness: Why People Feel More Comfortable With High Inequalities And High Murder Rates?


  • Popov, Vladimir


There is evidence that income and wealth inequalities are positively associated with happiness, as measured by the happiness index, and negatively associated with the suicide rate (that is considered an objective indicator of unhappiness). Moreover, there is some evidence that happiness is also positively linked the murder rate, especially when it goes hand in hand with inequalities. The possible explanation – competitive nature of human beings (a modification of a “big fish in the small pond” story) and perceptions of social justice: not only people enjoy the better than average position more than an even higher, but below the average position, but they also cherish the dream of becoming better than average. Greater equality that undermines the dream of becoming higher than average turns out to be disappointing for many. If murders occur without high income inequalities (i.e. murders are “unjustified”) and/or inequalities exist without high murders (inequalities are not perceived as unfair and do not cause social tension), then happiness is not affected.

Suggested Citation

  • Popov, Vladimir, 2018. "Paradoxes of Happiness: Why People Feel More Comfortable With High Inequalities And High Murder Rates?," MPRA Paper 87118, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:87118

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James B. Davies & Susanna Sandström & Anthony Shorrocks & Edward N. Wolff, 2007. "Estimating the Level and Distribution of Global Household Wealth," University of Western Ontario, Economic Policy Research Institute Working Papers 20075, University of Western Ontario, Economic Policy Research Institute.
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    More about this item


    Happiness; inequalities; murders; suicides;

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics

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