The Loss of Happiness in Market Democracies

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Yale University Press, 2000 - Business & Economics - 465 pages
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Despite the fact that citizens of advanced market democracies are satisfied with their material progress, many are haunted by a spirit of unhappiness. There is evidence of a rising tide of clinical depression in most advanced societies, and in the United States studies have documented a decline in the number of people who regard themselves as happy. Although our political and economic systems are based on the utilitarian philosophy of happiness--the greatest good for the greatest number--they seem to have contributed to our dissatisfaction with life. This book investigates why this is so.

Drawing on extensive research in such fields as quality of life, economics, politics, sociology, psychology, and biology, Robert E. Lane presents a challenging thesis. He shows that the main sources of well-being in advanced economies are friendships and a good family life and that, once one is beyond the poverty level, a larger income contributes almost nothing to happiness. In fact, as prosperity increases, there is a tragic erosion of family solidarity and community integration, and individuals become more and more distrustful of each other and their political institutions. Lane urges that we alter our priorities so that we increase our levels of companionship even at the risk of reducing our income.
 

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Contents

Shadow on the Land
3
Unhappiness in Our Time
13
Happiness as an Endowment Evolution the Fall from Grace and Devalued Children
36
Why Money Doesnt Buy Happiness for Most of Us
59
Companionship or Income?
77
Searching for Lost Companions in Market Democracies
99
Community Characteristics by Size of Place
120
Gaining Felicity While Losing Income?
125
Do Democratic Processes Contribute to IllBeing?
216
The Pain of SelfDetermination in Democracy
231
Companionate Democracy
249
Political Theory of WellBeing
263
Are People the Best Judges of Their Own WellBeing?
283
SelfInspired Pain
300
The Way Home
319
Measures of WellBeing and Depression
339

Materialism in Market Democracies
141
Is WellBeing a Market Externality?
159
Pain and Loneliness in a Consumers Paradise
175
Rising Malaise at Democracys Feast
195
Notes
349
Index
451
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About the author (2000)

Robert E. Lane is Eugene Meyer Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Yale University. He is the author of many books, including, most recently, The Market Experience.

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