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Why income levels are not compatible with happiness

Posted June. 15, 2013 04:23,   


“A Life with Evenings” drew keen attention as a buzzword ahead of the presidential election last year. It was meant to urge the country to ease fatigue from economic growth that has continued since the 1960s and reflect upon the quality of people’s life. People in modern society aspire for a leisurely life, but constantly drive themselves to workplaces. Even if they face increased workload and earn more to the extent they work harder, few people think “This is more than enough.” How much do we, people living in capitalist society, have to work and earn to believe this is more enough?

The authors’ of this book, Robert Skidelsky and his son Edward explain that people adopted capitalism for prosperity, but even production capacity has increased, they are not able to enjoy higher quality of life. They point out that the cause of such a phenomenon is greed of humans who endlessly pursues materials, and an unfair system that fails to redistribute income.

Skidelsky senior is a distinguished British scholar who studied history and political economy, and his son is a scholar who majored in philosophy, theology and political science. This book seeks to find an answer to the question “What is a good life in capitalist society” by crisscrossing diverse academic disciplines. They start their logical demonstration by pointing to fallacies of the assay “Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren” written by economist John Keynes in 1930, criticize ideology that puts top priority on growth, and conclude the book by emphasizing values such as friendship, leisure and stability.

To explain why such values are important anew to our life, the authors deployed various tables and figures. They inserted graphs on the portion of income earned by the top 1 percent income bracket in major economies, unemployment rates in OEDC member states, level of satisfaction about life relative to GDP and the number of people who participate in cultural events by year. Furthermore, they list one by one the systems that are specifically necessary to explain what institutional measures are needed to achieve a leisurely life. Most data are limited to those of advanced countries, but the book contains many points that Korean society, where people have growing interest in leisurely life, need to pay attention.