August 16, 2002


Why Martha 'needs' more (Amitai Etzioni, 8/13/02, CS Monitor)
A study by social scientists Frank Andrews and Stephen Withey found that the level of one's socioeconomic status had meager effects on one's "sense of well-being" and no significant effect on "satisfaction with life as a whole."

Other studies show that while at low incomes the amount of income does correlate strongly with happiness, the correlation soon levels off after a comfortable level of income is attained. Even more to the point, economic growth does not significantly affect happiness. Social psychologist David Myers reports that while after-tax income (adjusted for inflation) almost doubled between 1960 and 1990, nearly the same percentage of Americans were "very happy" during this time (35 percent in 1957 and 32 percent in 1993).

People who understand this phenomenon tend to engage in voluntary simplicity; they scale down consumption, engage in do-good activities in their spare time (which expands as they realize they need not bring home clients and stuffed briefcases), and enjoy families and friends more.

In extreme cases, people quit their high-paying, high-stress jobs, move to the countryside, and pick up carpentry or gardening. In less extremecases, people cut back on their hours, move to part-time jobs, or retire relatively young. Still others scale down purchases of prestige items.

There is no evidence that those who adopt the voluntary simplicity culture are less prone to commit white-collar crimes; however, so far none of those who were caught include a single one of those postmodern, moderate hippies.

Thankfully the new Suburban should protect me from hippie accusations as I squire the kids around. Posted by Orrin Judd at August 16, 2002 8:49 AM
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