Happiness Inequality #2: Differences Between Groups
Yesterday I showed that happiness inequality has fallen since the 1970’s. The natural question is: Why?
To answer this, we ran an analysis that simultaneously estimated the evolution of happiness through time, by education, race, gender, age, marital status, and region. Here are a few graphs summarizing these findings.
(To think about the units on these graphs, we basically convert each person’s happiness level into a “z-score”; for instance, my happiness z-score is about 1.2, indicating that I’m 1.2 standard deviations happier than the average person.)
First, we find that the rising wage gap between college graduates and high school graduates (and high school dropouts) has been paralleled by a rising happiness gap by education:
(The year-to-year bumps largely reflect statistical noise, as we are asking a smallish dataset to speak to a range of issues.)
Second, just as racial wage gaps have declined, so too has the racial happiness gap. In fact, the declining significance of race is quite striking:
Thus, happiness trends by race and gender point to declining happiness inequality, while the trends by education point to rising inequality. We have also analyzed trends by region, age group, and marital status, although I’ll leave you to read the full paper to see them. (Hint: Turn to Figure 6.)
How important are these trends in the overall scheme of things? That’s the topic I’ll return to in tomorrow’s post.