Social Indicators Research

, Volume 132, Issue 3, pp 953–975 | Cite as

More Unequal in Income, More Unequal in Wellbeing

  • Adam Okulicz-KozarynEmail author
  • Joan Maya Mazelis


This study focuses on the long-term trend in happiness by income level in the United States. General Social Survey data suggest that in the past, rich and poor Americans were not only more equal in terms of income, but also in terms of their subjective wellbeing: the happiness gap between the poor and the rich has been increasing. Today’s poor suffer greater relative unhappiness than the poor of past decades. The gap between the poor and the rich is substantial, approximately 0.4 on a 1–3 happiness scale. The increase in the happiness gap is striking: comparing the 1970s to the 2000s, the gap has widened by about 40 % between the poor and the rich, and by about 50 % between the middle class and the rich.


Happiness Life satisfaction Subjective wellbeing Income inequality Fairness Social justice US General Social Survey (GSS) 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rutgers – CamdenCamdenUSA
  2. 2.Rutgers – CamdenCamdenUSA

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