Happiness and Health in the Middle Class


The Frank article discusses the effects of inequality on the middle class, particularly centering on how their happiness and overall well-being is affected. They decide to use a previous works  to measure and analyze the happiness of American society. They further examine the subjective well-being of individuals, which encompasses both happiness and health. They compared American society to countries around the world, and how happy we were in relationship. They found two empirical findings between the relationship of money and happiness: that when someone gets more money it does not seem to make a difference and happiness levels do increase when a person’s income level rises. Another important point that they make is that an increased income positively affects the subjective well-being. It is also suggested that a lower amount of inequality leads higher levels of happiness.

While reading the article I had to agree with the author’s research. I feel like our society has become increasingly individualistic in our ideals and policies, therefore the inequality in our society has drastically increased. They gave us the example of Scandinavia, and how the Danes are among the happiest people in the world. If you take a look at the policies they implement and their attitudes towards community, you see that they focus on the well-being of all not just the few. They have universal healthcare, whereas our society does not. Healthcare is a major issue for the middle class in our country, some would even go to the length of arguing that it is a right for all of us to have, yet we do not. Not being healthy significantly affects our society’s well-being. When there is a larger gap in income inequality, there are lower levels of happiness. Resources are unequally distributed in these areas. Therefore there are greater amounts of crime, corruption, and inequality.

The data reflected that a person’s income played a role in the happiness of an individual; that when a person’s income increased they became happier; however the happiness level would eventually become stagnant at a certain point. I feel like because we live in such a capitalistic society we will never fully feel completely happy. We give ourselves false hopes that once we make it to the next level in our lives that things will get better, and they do for a while, but then that next level just brings us more needs and wants.

The old saying goes: “Money can’t buy you happiness”; and I do not believe that it can. I do however believe that our society needs to change its attitude when it does come to the issue of money. The author conveyed that a lot had to do with the temperament of a person. That even poor people can be happy. Our society has become so reliant on materialistic things that we have forgotten the things that are really important. We should work towards helping our other fellow Americans, but we won’t. We are too worried about what that would mean for our wealth.

10 thoughts on “Happiness and Health in the Middle Class

  1. I agree on the fact that this country focuses too much on the individual. Money is the end all be all in the United States. You cannot make it here without a viable source of income as it is starting to get too expensive to afford anything and people now do not like taking risks to help others. The healthcare plans issue brought up is a great example like you stated, international cultures focus on making sure the family survives and always look out for each other. My mom has helped me out financially when I was struggling to make money because she cared for me and knew I would turn it around. There is rarely a case in the States for that to occur.

  2. It was stated that the more money you have the happier you are. I agree with this, even though if everyone was in middle class I feel that if they get some extra cash they do feel better about themselves and they are happier. This way they don’t have to worry about if they have enough money this month to pay for their house or car payment or to send their children to schools or anywhere. It was also stated that if the level of inequality is lower people tend to be happier. I also believe in this because even though everyone says they want to be equal I really don’t think they do. I say this because; if everyone was equal no one would be motivated to do anything. I am motivated to go to college and go to work every day because my family brought us here to give us a better life that they never had. But, if everyone has the same opportunities in getting the same job or getting in the same colleges that would be different and no one would be competing.

    -Elvira Maletic

  3. I agree that if we collectively cared about everyone’s well-being as a societal whole, we would be much happier. I do think the example given about Scandinavia is a good one. I, however, disagree in part with the concept of increased money and eventually stagnant level of happiness. I don’t so much see this as constantly being unsatisfied. I see this more as becoming familiar or used to the situation at hand. I think the increased happiness comes not entirely part because of having more money but, because of having a change. I think people would remain happy for longer periods of time, if they allowed for small changes here and there. Taking part in activities and finding meaning in the community would probably play a major role in happiness levels.

  4. I think that you have some really good points from the article. I was told in another class that money sometimes can have an influence on the happiness a person has or claims to feel. I think that depending on the study and the wording of the questions in the study then the results could be found to be different. But personally I agree that being wealthy doesn’t necessarily make you happier. I think sometimes it makes things easier as far as worrying about money or how to pay the bills. But I also agree that we have become too materialistic.

  5. Great post! I really do agree with your point about how our society has become so extremely individualistic. Many people walk around with the mentality of not being bothered with what happens to someone else as long as it does not affect their lives or wellbeing. With the lack of care for others, inequality only seems to be becoming a greater issue in our society. Policy changes that push more towards the side of equality and fairness would greatly benefit our society. If helping our fellow Americans became a priority in our nation truly great things could be achieved.

  6. Since there is such a rush in our society to become “middle class” I think that in some ways, money does buy happiness. Not in the sense that it’s a tangible object, but in the sense that middle class seems to be something most of us strive for. And to be middle class, you have to have some amount of money. Middle class families are indeed finding it harder to obtain this rank in society because of the amount of economic inequality between the lower class, middle class, and upper class. Good post!

  7. Great post! Happiness is definitely something we need to survive. I notice that in America, we are very individualistic. Everybody stays to themselves. In other places around the world, money is important in their lives as well to survive and support their families but they still come together and are very loving towards one another. They aren’t materialistic and don’t expect the finer things in life. They live off of what they have. Money isn’t everything to them! I feel like we learn that money will buy you everything but like you said its doesn’t guarantee you happiness. If inequality didn’t change society to view one another differently, i believe things would be so much different. I also believe people would appreciate life more and be a lot happier.

  8. I really like this article, and liked your post, and for the most part i agree with you. But, I’m going to play the devils advocate and say money does buy happiness. And, moreover, I want to say thats not a bad thing. Just to start off, happiness and level of education are correlated. Does anyone here know how much a college degree costs these days? We all better our lives and our well being, by the power of dollar. Having a collage degree leads to avenues that others might not have. Now look at the other end of the sperum. Starving children, the homeless, here and abroad greatly better their lives through donation and aid work. Money, once again, allowed for these indigent people to better their lives. At the end of the day, the power to save people comes from the power of money

  9. I agree our country needs to be looking at a bigger scale, towards the community as a whole, and we all need to share concern for each others well being. The research in income and happiness is also very interesting. The work about income and happiness and a lack of correlation was suprising, but as income goes up, well-being does as well. This is a more common assumption.

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