Thursday, February 18, 2016

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Jan-Emmanuel De Neve and Nick Powdthavee discuss how the rise of an exclusive class of the rich increases stress and decreases well-being for everybody else.
Using data from the World Top Incomes Database and the Gallup World Poll, we compared the share of taxable income held by the top 1% in each country with reported levels of life satisfaction over the last 30 years. We found that a 1% increase in the share of taxable income held by the top 1% hurts life satisfaction as much as a 1.4% increase in the country-level unemployment rate.

This is a stark reminder that it’s not just about how much you have, nor even how much you have relative to everyone else, but also how much the top 1% has. With that level of income accumulation, even if you are a member of the relatively well-to-do middle class some things start getting priced beyond your reach, such as housing.

In addition, there may be psychological reasons driving the correlation between rising top incomes and decreased average wellbeing: a rise in the share of income held by the richest 1% could make you feel as if your chance of moving up the ladder is growing increasingly beyond your reach.

This is particularly true for certain groups of people. We found that people who are young, less educated or on low incomes tend to suffer more as the richest get richer.
- Meanwhile, the CP finds that nearly half of Canadians are barely averting insolvency. Gary Mason points out how British Columbia's latest budget sprays cash at everybody except the people who actually need it. And Sean Swan comments on the need to address class economics in order to deal with inequality.

- Terri Coles writes about the growing political movement for a basic income in Canada, while Jonathan Brun makes the case for Quebec to lead the way. And Jonathan Sher reports on the push from London's top public health official for a living wage.

- Charlie Angus reminds us of Canada's chronic underfunding of First Nations. And Anna Mehler Paperny reports on the appalling mortality rates for young children in Canada's North, together with their obvious social causes.

- Finally, Hugh MacKenzie discusses the advantages of ensuring secure public pensions, rather than counting on millions of retirees to save for themselves (with the financial services sector taking its substantial cut off the top).

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