Inégalités: Attention, une inégalité peut en cacher une autre ! (Inequality and happiness: are Europeans and Americans different?)

https://i1.wp.com/th01.deviantart.net/fs70/PRE/i/2011/269/c/9/harrison_bergeron_colored_by_randomdrawerchic-d4b1lpg.jpgOn donnera à celui qui a, et il sera dans l’abondance, mais à celui qui n’a pas on ôtera même ce qu’il a. Jésus (Matthieu 25: 29)
L’effet Matthieu (Matthew Effect) désigne, de manière très générale, les mécanismes par lesquels les plus favorisés tendent à accroître leur avantage sur les autres. Cette appellation fait référence à une phrase de l’évangile selon saint Matthieu : « Car on donnera à celui qui a, et il sera dans l’abondance, mais à celui qui n’a pas on ôtera même ce qu’il a. ». Le terme est dû au sociologue américain Robert K. Merton. Celui-ci, dans un article publié en 1968, cherchait à montrer comment les scientifiques et les universités les plus reconnus tendaient à entretenir leur domination sur le monde de la recherche. D’autres chercheurs ont par la suite réutilisé la formule d’effet Matthieu dans d’autres contextes, notamment dans des études montrant pourquoi, lors d’un processus d’apprentissage, les meilleurs tendent à accroître leur avance. Wikipedia
C’était l’année 2081, et tout le monde était enfin égal. Ils n’étaient pas seulement égaux devant Dieu et la Loi. Ils étaient égaux dans tous les sens du terme. Personne n’était plus intelligent que les autres. Personne n’était plu beau que les autres. Personne n’était plus fort ou plus rapide que les autres. Toute cette égalité était due aux 211e, 212e et 213e amendements à la Constitution et à la vigilance incessante des agents du Handicapeur général des Etats-Unis. Kurt Vonnegut (« Harrison Bergeron », 1961)
Pauvre Surhomme (titre original : Harrison Bergeron) est une nouvelle dystopienne de science-fiction écrite par Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. et publiée pour la première fois en octobre 1961. (…)  Tout au long de l’histoire, Vonnegut utilise la satire, et l’histoire elle-même peut être classée en tant que satire. (…) L’égalité sociale a enfin pu être atteinte en handicapant les plus intelligents, les plus athlétiques ou les plus beaux des membres de la société pour les ramener au niveau le plus bas des compétences communes. Ce processus est au cœur du système social, conçu de manière à ce que nul ne se sente inférieur à quiconque. Le maintien de ce handicap dans la population est supervisé par la « Handicapeur Général des États-Unis », Diana Moon Glampers. Harrison Bergeron, le protagoniste de l’histoire, a une intelligence, une force et une beauté exceptionnelles, et doit donc supporter d’énormes handicaps : poids attachés à son corps, écouteurs et lunettes lui donnant des maux de tête, grimage grotesque. Malgré ces handicaps, il parvient à envahir une station de télévision et à se déclarer empereur, choisissant une ballerine pour impératrice. Ils sont tués tous les deux par l’impitoyable Diana Moon Glampers. Toute l’histoire est racontée du point de vue des parents de Harrison qui suivent l’incident à la télévision, mais qui, à cause de leurs handicaps, ne peuvent pas se concentrer suffisamment pour apprécier ce qui se passe ni s’en souvenir. Wikipedia
Il ne faut pas dissimuler que les institutions démocratiques développent à un très haut niveau le sentiment de l’envie dans le coeur humain. Ce n’est point tant parce qu’elle offrent à chacun les moyens de s’égaler aux autres, mais parce que ces moyens défaillent sans cesse à ceux qui les emploient. Les institutions démocratiques réveillent et flattent la passion de l’égalité sans pouvoir jamais la satisfaire entièrement. Cette égalité complète s’échappe tous les jours des mains du peuples au moment où il croit la saisir, et fuit, comme dit Pascal, d’une fuite éternelle; le peuple s’échauffe à la recherche de ce bien d’autant plus précieux qu’il est assez proche pour être connu et assez loin pour ne pas être goûté. Tout ce qui le dépasse par quelque endroit lui paraît un obstacle à ses désirs, et il n’y a pas de supériorité si légitime dont la vue ne fatigue sas yeux. Beaucoup de gens s’imaginent que cet instinct secret qui porte chez nous les classes inférieures à écarter autant qu’elles le peuvent les supérieures de la direction des affaires ne se découvre qu’en France. C’est une erreur. L’instinct dont je parle n’est pas français. Il est démocratique. Tocqueville
Il y a en effet une passion mâle et légitime pour l’égalité qui excite les hommes à vouloir être tous forts et estimés. Cette passion tend à élever les petits au rang des grands ; mais il se rencontre aussi dans le cœur humain un goût dépravé pour l’égalité, qui porte les faibles à vouloir attirer les forts à leur niveau, et qui réduit les hommes à préférer l’égalité dans la servitude à l’inégalité dans la liberté. Tocqueville
La justice sociale n’est pas de ce monde mais les peuples la réclament. À en juger par les élections récentes dans des pays aussi divers que l’Allemagne, le Chili et la Corée, cette exigence de justice et d’égalité l’emporte actuellement sur celle de la croissance. Angela Merkel a fait campagne sur le thème de l’égalité sociale et pour gouverner s’est alliée aux Socio-démocrates qui ont obtenu l’instauration d’un salaire minimum national. Quoique de droite, la présidente coréenne, Park Geun-hye, surenchérit dans l’égalitarisme et diabolise les grandes entreprises, moteurs du succès économique de son pays. Au Chili, Michelle Bachelet vient d’être réélue sur des promesses d’inspiration socialiste, tournant le dos à vingt-cinq ans de dynamisme libéral. Rappelons enfin la diatribe récente du Pape François, évoquée dans ces pages le 8 décembre, contre l’économie de marché qui n’engendrerait que l’injustice. Ces événements dessinent un air du temps qui ne relève pas que de l’idéologie : il est avéré que, même dans les phases de croissance, depuis trente ans, les inégalités de revenus s’accroissent dans toutes les économies de marché. Les salaires de la classe moyenne stagnent, tandis que les revenus des plus riches atteignent des sommets. À cette différenciation croissante des revenus, on envisagera deux explications majeures : la qualification technique et scientifique des plus diplômés leur garantit une surprime sur le marché de l’emploi tandis que ceux qui travaillent sur le marché mondial gagnent des sommes à l’échelle de ce marché, sans commune mesure avec ceux qui restent confinés dans des frontières locales ou nationales. Mais, expliquer ne satisfait pas les exigences populaires. Que pourrait-on proposer, comme discours électoral ou pratique politique, qui rendraient les écarts de revenus plus acceptables, sans briser le dynamisme du marché, seul garant de la croissance ? À gauche, de tradition, l’égalitarisme passe par le salaire minimum en bas et, en haut, par la confiscation des revenus. Guy Sorman
C’était en 2019 et enfin, les Américains étaient sur le chemin de l’égalité réelle. Non seulement l’égalité aux yeux de Dieu ou devant la loi ou l’égalité des chances. Ils allaient être égaux dans tous les sens du terme. Toute cette égalité résultait d’une audacieuse nouvelle politique du gouvernement. Il y avait la Loi sur le salaire décent de 2017, qui avait fixé le salaire minimum par rappor au salaire horaire moyen (ajusté à l’inflation) de 2016. Il y avait la NEW – AMT, fixant un taux d’impôt fédéral minimum de 55 % pour les revenus individuels de plus de 150 000 $ (soit 80 % pour les revenus supérieurs à 500 000 $). Il y avait la loi de l’assurance‑chômage pour toujours de 2018. Il y avait la loi De Blasio-Waxman sur les salaires des PDG de 2018, imposant un ratio de 9 à 1 entre le plus haut et plus bas salaire dans n’importe quelle entreprise. Heureusement, rien de tout cela n’avait nui le moins du monde à l’économie. Le salaire minimum plus élevé n’a « aucun effet perceptible sur l’emploi » (Schmitt, 2013). Les taux marginaux d’imposition élevés n’ont aucun effet sur la productivité et la création d’es entreprises (Piketty-Saez, 2011). Préserver les prestations chômage met l’argent dans les mains des consommateurs et ainsi stimule l’économie (Zandi, comme d’habitude). En ce qui concerne le ratio des salaires de 9 à 1  — c’est tout simplement l’équité, n’est-ce pas ? Les nouvelles règles sur le revenu n’étaient pas le seul moyen que l’Amérique réalisait l’égalité. Grâce aux efforts du Procureur général Thomas Perez, les poursuites pour disparité de parcours avaient transformé la culture publique du pays de façon inattendue. Par exemple, la hauteur moyenne des joueurs de la NBA pour la saison 2007 – 08  était un peu moins de 6 pieds 7 pouces. Le mâle américain moyen fait de 5 pieds 9 pouces. Manifestement inégal, manifestement injuste. M. Perez a exigé que la NBA établisse une règle pour la hauteur moyenne qui obligerait chaque équipe à compenser les plus grands joueurs avec des plus courts. Les Américains se sont rapidement adaptés à la règle dite du Monstre-nain, comme on l’appelait affectueusement, cependant les alley-oops n’étaient jamais plus tout à fait les mêmes. Une autre industrie, transformée par les nouvelles règles a été Hollywood. Pour « l’équilibre-Bourne »,  Matt Damon revenait pour le rôle-titre de Jason Bourne, un ancien Super-Assassin maintenant totalement en paix avec lui-même et le monde. Pour ses efforts, il a été payé 330 000 $ (ou 130 000 $ après les taxes fédéral, d’état et locales), ce qui est encore neuf fois le salaire du seconde-assistant machiniste. C’était bien loin de la somme de 20 millions $ qu’il avai été payé pour le « Bourne Ultimatum » de 2007, mais, comme il dit, « ça valait totalement la peine » parce qu’il n’avait maintenant plus d’autre choix que d’envoyer ses enfants à l’école publique. La mode aussi a changé. Les mannequins de Victoria’s secret  devaient désormais défiler le visage recouvert d’un horrible masque à l’image d’économistes de Princeton barbus. Fox News, lui,  s’en était tiré en présentant une équipe de présentateurs composée exclusivement d’hommes bedonnants d’une cinquantaine d’années. Bret Stephens
Nous avons trouvé que les personnes ont une tendance plus faible à se déclarer heureuses lorsque l’inégalité est élevée (…) L’effet, cependant, est plus précisément défini statistiquement en Europe qu’aux États-Unis. En outre, nous avons trouvé des différences frappantes entre les groupes. En Europe, les pauvres et les personnes situées sur la gauche de l’échiquier politique se plaignent de l’inégalité ; alors qu’aux États-Unis, le bonheur des pauvres et des gens de gauche est non corrélé avec l’inégalité. Fait intéressant, aux États-Unis, les riches sont gênés par l’inégalité. En comparant à travers les continents, nous trouvons que les gens de gauche en Europe sont plus gênés par l’inégalité qu’aux États-Unis. Et les pauvres en Europe sont plus préoccupés par l’inégalité que les pauvres en Amérique, un effet qui est important en termes de taille, mais n’est significatif qu’au niveau de 10 %. Nous croyons que ces résultats sont en accord avec la perception (et pas nécessairement la réalité) que les Américains vivent dans une société mobile, où l’effort individuel peut déplacer les gens dans l’échelle des revenus, tandis que les Européens croient qu’ils vivent dans des sociétés moins mobiles.
Les pays diffèrent considérablement dans le degré d’inégalité de revenu qu’ils tolèrent, même à des stades semblables de développement. Les observateurs européens dénoncent l’inégalité plus grande (et, pour une grande partie des dernières décennies, de plus en plus grande) aux États-Unis. les commentateurs américains affirment que l » obsession » de l’inégalité a société européenne étouffe la créativité et crée un cercle vicieux de dépendance des pauvres à la protection sociale. Ces divergences d’opinions reflètent-elles simplement des préférences différentes sur les mérites de l’égalité des deux côtés de l’Atlantique ? En outre, une préférence pour l’égalité est-elle juste une question de  » goût  », ou faut-il tenir compte d’autre éléments dans la société, tels que le niveau de mobilité sociale ? Nous utilisons les réponses à une question de bien-être simple. Nous avons simplement établi une corrélation entre les réponses à la question de bien-être à des milliers de personnes en Europe et en Amérique depuis de nombreuses années avec les niveaux mesurés de l’inégalité. (…) Nos résultats montrent que, tenant compte de caractéristiques personnelles des répondants, États / pays des effets et des effets de l’année, les individus ont tendance à déclarer des niveaux inférieurs de bonheur lorsque l’inégalité se trouve être élevée. L’effet en Amérique semble être moins précisément estimé qu’en Europe, même si la différence globale n’est pas statistiquement significative. Puis, nous étudions les différences entre revenu et groupes idéologiques. Nous constatons que les riches et les gens de droite en Europe ne sont pas pour la plupart gênés par l’inégalité. Au lieu de cela, nous identifions des effets négatifs forts d’inégalité sur le bonheur des pauvres et des gens de gauche européens. Aux États-Unis, les pauvres et les gens de gauche ne sont pas affectés par l’inégalité, alors que l’effet sur les riches est négatif et bien défini. En comparant ces groupes à travers les continents, nous trouvons que la gauche européenne est plus touchée par l’inégalité que la gauche américaine. La différence semble être de grande taille et très bien définie statistiquement. Il n’y a aucune différence entre la droite américaine et la droite européenne. En ce qui concerne les catégories de revenu, il n’y a aucune différence entre les Américains riches et les Européens riches en termes de comment l’inégalité affecte les niveaux de leur bonheur signalés. Les pauvres en Europe, cependant, sont plus touchés par l’inégalité que les pauvres américains. La différence est très grande en termes de taille, bien que seulement statistiquement significatif au seuil de 10 %. Ceci suggère que l’aversion des Européenne à l’inégalité ne provient pas des préférences différentes en Europe et aux Etats-Unis. Supposons que  » l’égalité  » soit un bien de luxe dont la demande augmente plus que proportionnellement avec le revenu, ou même un bien normal. Alors, nous devrions trouver que les riches Européens détestent l’inégalité plus que les pauvres européens, comme aux États-Unis. Une interprétation plus raisonnable est que les possibilités de mobilité sont (ou semblent être) plus élevées aux États-Unis qu’en Europe. Alberto Alesinaa, *, Rafael Di Tellab, Robert MacCullochc

Après le mariage pour tous,… le chômage pour tous !

A l’heure où, après les mesures sociétales les plus démagogiques et les promesses non tenues, nos Handicapeurs en chef  multiplient des deux côtés de l’Atlantique les annonces et les gesticulations devant la notoire obstination des faits économiques …

Jusqu’à, face à l’envie de quenelle ou des avoirs de l’autre, s’en prendre en France à la liberté d’expression et aux Etats-Unis à la liberté d’entreprendre

Comment ne pas repenser, avec le chroniqueur du WSJ, à la célèbre nouvelle de Kurt Vonnegut (« Harrison Bergeron »: Pauvre surhomme » en France) où pour assurer une égalité enfin parfaite l’Etat se voyait contraint de multiplier les handicaps pour les plus favorisés ?

Mais aussi comment ne pas s’étonner, avec l’étude d’une équipe d’économistes de Princeton il y a dix ans, de cette étrange inégalité de réaction d’une classe ouvrière américaine …

Qui, sous prétexte d’une prétendue mobilité plus grande et contre l’avis même à la fois de leurs exploiteurs américains et de leurs homologues pauvres européens ainsi que de leurs soutiens de gauche, continuent à refuser de condamner l’inégalité pourtant croissante des revenus que connait leur pays depuis maintenant des décennies ?

Kurt Vonnegut’s State of the Union

Updating a story about government-mandated absolute equality.

The WSJ

Jan. 27, 2014

The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.

—From  » Harrison Bergeron  » (1961), a short story by Kurt Vonnegut

The year was 2019 and Americans were finally on their way toward real equality. Not just equality in God’s eyes, or before the law, or in opportunity.

They were going to be equal every which way.

All this equality was due to bold new government action. There was the Decent Wage Act of 2017, which pegged the minimum wage to the (inflation-adjusted) average hourly wage of 2016. There was the NEW- AMT, which set a 55% minimum federal tax rate on individual income over $150,000 (or 80% for incomes above $500,000). There was the Unemployment Insurance Is Forever Act of 2018. There was the 2018 De Blasio-Waxman CEO Pay Act, which mandated a 9-to-1 ratio between the highest and lowest paid person in any enterprise.

Happily, none of this harmed the economy in the slightest. Higher minimum wages have « no discernible effect on employment » ( Schmitt, 2013). High marginal tax rates have no effect on productivity and business creation (Piketty-Saez, 2011). Preserving jobless benefits puts money into the hands of consumers and thus stimulates the economy (Zandi, as usual). As for the 9-to-1 pay ratio—that’s just plain fairness, OK?

New rules on income weren’t the only way America was achieving equality. Thanks to the efforts of Attorney General Thomas Perez, disparate outcome lawsuits were changing the country’s public culture in unexpected ways.

For example, the average height of NBA players for the 2007- 08 season was just under 6 feet 7 inches. The average American male is 5 feet 9 inches. Patently unequal, patently unfair. Mr. Perez demanded that the NBA establish an average-height rule that would require each team to offset taller players with shorter ones.

Americans quickly adapted to the Midget-Monster rule, as it was lovingly known, though alley-oops were never quite the same.

Another industry transformed by the new rules was Hollywood. For « The Bourne Equilibrium, » Matt Damon returned to the title role of Jason Bourne, a former super-assassin now entirely at peace with himself and the world. For his efforts he was paid $330,000 (or $130,000 after federal, state and local taxes), which is still nine times the salary of the second-assistant key grip. It was a far cry from the $20 million he was paid for the 2007 « Bourne Ultimatum » but, as he said, « it was totally worth it » because he now has no choice but to send his children to public school.

Fashion also changed. Victoria’s Secret models were henceforth required to parade down catwalks wearing horrible masks resembling bearded Princeton economists. Fox News came out with a roster of all- male, paunchy middle-aged anchors.

And what about Republicans? Though most conservatives were resistant to the Equality Movement, some found the new political environment congenial to their anti-elitist aims.

There was the Grassley-Amash De-Tenure Act of 2016, which abolished the « monstrous inequality » of college-faculty tenure. That was soon followed by the Amash-Grassley Graduate Student Liberation Act of 2017, ending the « master-slave » relationship between professors and their teaching and research assistants.

More controversial was the Grassley-Gowdy De-Ivy Act of 2018, requiring all four-year colleges, public or private, to accept students by lottery. Besides its stated goal of « ending elitism and extending the promise of equality to tertiary education, » many conservatives saw it as a backdoor method of eliminating affirmative action. Liberals countered that it had precisely the opposite effect.

Still, it was not enough for Americans to promote equality within America. Also necessary was to seek equality with other nations. In 2017, Sen. Rand Paul joined with Oakland Rep. Barbara Lee to cap defense spending at no more than 2% of gross domestic product. « Brazil only spends 1.5% of their GDP on defense, and they’ve never been invaded, » said Mr. Paul. « Canada spends about 1.2%, and they’ve only been invaded by us. Maybe the lesson is that a big military makes us less secure, not more. »

In the summer of 2018, a software engineer at Los Alamos uploaded detailed blueprints of a Trident missile warhead to the Internet. Mr. Paul praised the engineer, who fled to Ecuador, as « civil disobedient, » like Martin Luther King Jr., and noted that many scholars believe nuclear proliferation—or nuclear equality—makes the world a safer place.

Of course, not everyone was happy with the emerging utopia. From his yacht 100 miles off the coast of Marin County, hedge- fund billionaire Tom Perkins wrote bilious letters to The Wall Street Journal, which, mysteriously, the Journal saw fit to publish. Fortunately, investigative ace David Brock was able to establish that Mr. Perkins’s real name is Emmanuel Goldstein, and promptly created a Two Minutes Hate program on Media Matters for America, which was very popular.

And then came the State of the Union speech. From the hushed chamber of the House of Representatives, a young Texas congressman named Harrison Bergeron yelled « You lie! » as the president spoke about the joy Americans felt as the promise of equality was finally realized.

Wolfers, J., 2002. Is business cycle volatility costly? Evidence from surveys of subjective wellbeing, Stanford Business School Research Paper No. 1751.

Wu, X., Perloff, J., Golan, A., 2002. Effects of government policies on income distribution and welfare, UC Berkeley working paper, iirwps-086-02.

Voir aussi:

Pour en finir avec les inégalités

Guy Sorman

Le futur, c’est tout de suite

19.12.2013

La justice sociale n’est pas de ce monde mais les peuples la réclament. À en juger par les élections récentes dans des pays aussi divers que l’Allemagne, le Chili et la Corée, cette exigence de justice et d’égalité l’emporte actuellement sur celle de la croissance. Angela Merkel a fait campagne sur le thème de l’égalité sociale et pour gouverner s’est alliée aux Socio-démocrates qui ont obtenu l’instauration d’un salaire minimum national. Quoique de droite, la présidente coréenne, Park Geun-hye, surenchérit dans l’égalitarisme et diabolise les grandes entreprises, moteurs du succès économique de son pays. Au Chili, Michelle Bachelet vient d’être réélue sur des promesses d’inspiration socialiste, tournant le dos à vingt-cinq ans de dynamisme libéral. Rappelons enfin la diatribe récente du Pape François, évoquée dans ces pages le 8 décembre, contre l’économie de marché qui n’engendrerait que l’injustice.

Ces événements dessinent un air du temps qui ne relève pas que de l’idéologie : il est avéré que, même dans les phases de croissance, depuis trente ans, les inégalités de revenus s’accroissent dans toutes les économies de marché. Les salaires de la classe moyenne stagnent, tandis que les revenus des plus riches atteignent des sommets. À cette différenciation croissante des revenus, on envisagera deux explications majeures : la qualification technique et scientifique des plus diplômés leur garantit une surprime sur le marché de l’emploi tandis que ceux qui travaillent sur le marché mondial gagnent des sommes à l’échelle de ce marché, sans commune mesure avec ceux qui restent confinés dans des frontières locales ou nationales.

Mais, expliquer ne satisfait pas les exigences populaires. Que pourrait-on proposer, comme discours électoral ou pratique politique, qui rendraient les écarts de revenus plus acceptables, sans briser le dynamisme du marché, seul garant de la croissance ? À gauche, de tradition, l’égalitarisme passe par le salaire minimum en bas et, en haut, par la confiscation des revenus.

Mais cette mécanique égalitaire produit en réalité plus d’effets pervers que de justice sociale : le salaire minimum légal, s’il dépasse les salaires effectifs, exclut du marché du travail les moins qualifiés. C’est le cas de la France où il a été montré que toute augmentation du salaire minimum accroissait le chômage des jeunes non qualifiés. Aux États-Unis, à l’inverse, la faiblesse du salaire minimum fédéral – ou des salaires minimums d’Etat là où il existe – accélère le retour au travail en fin de crise économique : pour l’instant, car le Président Obama fait campagne pour relever fortement ce minimum fédéral. Quant à l’impôt progressif sur le revenu ou sur le capital, il produit partout la fuite des capitaux et des entrepreneurs.

À droite, la réponse à la question lancinante de l’inégalité est, d’ordinaire, une amélioration des qualifications scolaires. Mais celle-ci est plus facile à invoquer qu’à organiser et de toute manière, les effets en sont lents. Les plus classiques s’en tiennent au laisser-faire : le marché crée de la richesse et la redistribue, mais voici qui est devenu relativement inexact.

On souhaitera donc que la gauche renonce à l’égalitarisme mécanique et la droite à l’égalitarisme béat pour que les uns et les autres proposent une réponse neuve à une situation inédite. C’est possible. Dans la panoplie des économistes, un instrument au moins n’a jamais été utilisé, peut-être parce qu’il n’est ni de droite ni de gauche: l’impôt négatif sur le revenu, aussi appelé revenu minimum universel. Selon le modèle initial tel qu’il fut proposé par Milton Friedman, il y a 50 ans, tout citoyen ou résident légal devrait payer un impôt sur le revenu à partir d’un certain seuil correspondant à une vie décente, et en-dessous du seuil, il serait payé de manière à remonter jusqu’à ce seuil.

Ce revenu minimum par l’État remplacerait toutes les aides et subventions, chacun étant considéré comme capable d’utiliser de manière responsable ce qui lui est garanti. Le revenu minimum universel est un choix éthique – les citoyens sont responsables et pas dépendants – et économique – l’État n’interfère pas avec le marché. Le revenu minimum universel est une solution de rechange aux États Providence essoufflés et une réponse à la question de l’inégalité. Seule manque l’audace politique pour le soumettre aux suffrages.

Voir enfin:

Inequality and happiness: are Europeans and Americans different?

Alberto Alesinaa, Rafael Di Tellab, Robert MacCullochc

Journal of Public Economics 88 (2004)

30 July 2003

Abstract

We study the effect of the level of inequality in society on individual well-being using a total of 123,668 answers to a survey question about ‘‘happiness’’. We find that individuals have a lower tendency to report themselves happy when inequality is high, even after controlling for individual income, a large set of personal characteristics, and year and country (or, in the case of the US, state) dummies. The effect, however, is more precisely defined statistically in Europe than in the US. In addition, we find striking differences across groups. In Europe, the poor and those on the left of the political spectrum are unhappy about inequality; whereas in the US the happiness of the poor and of those on the left is uncorrelated with inequality. Interestingly, in the US, the rich are bothered by inequality. Comparing across continents, we find that left-wingers in Europe are more hurt by inequality than left-wingers in the US. And the poor in Europe are more concerned with inequality than the poor in America, an effect that is large in terms of size but is only significant at the 10% level. We argue that these findings are consistent with the perception (not necessarily the reality) that Americans have been living in a mobile society, where individual effort can move people up and down the income ladder, while Europeans believe that they live in less mobile societies.

1. Introduction

Most governments redistribute income, using both direct and indirect means. Even though this role of the public sector has increased vastly in the last few decades in all industrial countries, European governments are more heavily involved with redistribution than that of the United States. European fiscal systems are more progressive than in the United States and the welfare state is more generous in Europe, where the share of government in the economy is substantially larger than in the United States. For instance, in 2000 the share of total government spending (excluding interest payments) over GDP was about 30% in the US, versus 45% in Continental Europe. The share of transfers over GDP was about 11% in the US and about 18% in Europe, and more than 20 in Germany, Sweden and other northern European countries.1 At the end of the 19th century, the share of transfers over GDP was less than 1% both in Europe and the US. It was about 6% of GDP in the US, and about 10% of GDP in Europe in 1960. The growth of transfers explains almost all of the increase in the size of government and the difference in the size of government between Europe and the US.2

If democratic governments redistribute so much, it must mean that a large fraction of the population favors these programs that are meant to reduce inequality. For a start, the ‘‘poor’’ should be in favor of redistribution, since they gain from it on net. However, this preference is mitigated by the fact that the poor of today may become the rich of tomorrow and they do not want to be the ones who will have to support redistributive schemes. Conversely the rich should oppose redistributions, but if they fear to become poor they may see redistributive policies as an insurance against future potential misfortunes. Therefore, social mobility should influence how forward looking individuals value redistributive polices.3

Beyond self-interest, however, inequality (which is often associated with high poverty rates) may be perceived as a social evil. That is, at least up to a point, even the net losers from redistributive schemes may favor them because they perceive poverty and inequality as social harms. In part, this may also be motivated indirectly by self-interest, to the extent that inequality breeds crime and threats to property rights. But, even beyond that, the observation (or perception) of poverty may negatively affect the welfare of the rich and their sense of fairness. The bottom line is that inequality must be perceived as a social evil especially in those countries with large redistributive programs.

In this paper, we explore whether and why inequality negatively affects individual utility even after controlling for individual income. We measure ‘‘utility’’ in terms of survey answers about ‘‘happiness’’. Some readers may feel uncomfortable using such a vague question like ‘‘are you happy?’’ for any useful statistical investigation. As we discuss below, however, a growing literature both in psychology and in economics successfully uses it, and the patterns observed in the answers to this question are reasonable and quite similar across countries. This gives us confidence in the significance of using such data to study inequality.

We find some intriguing results. First, Europeans and Americans report themselves less happy when inequality is high; however, the effect of inequality on happiness is more precisely estimated for Europe.4 Second, aversion to inequality is concentrated amongst different ideological and income groups across the two regions. There is no clear ideological divide in the US concerning the effect of inequality on happiness. In contrast, those who define themselves leftist show a strong distaste for inequality in Europe, while those who define themselves rightists are unaffected by it. The breakdown of rich versus poor also shows some differences between Europe and the US. In Europe, the happiness of the poor is strongly negatively affected by inequality, while the effect on the rich is smaller in size and statistically insignificant. In the US, one finds the opposite pattern, namely that the group whose happiness seems to be most adversely affected by inequality is the rich. A striking result is that the US poor seem totally unaffected by inequality. Any significance of the inequality coefficient in the US population is mainly driven by the rich.

We argue that these results are due to different perceptions of the degree of social mobility in the US and Europe. Americans believe that their society is mobile so the poor feel that they can move up and the rich fear falling behind. In Europe, a perception of a more immobile society makes the poor dislike inequality since they feel ‘‘stuck’’.5 Alesina et al. (2001) provide different evidence that this is indeed the case. For instance, according to the World Values survey less than 30% of Americans believe that poor are trapped in poverty while 60% of Europeans have this belief. Americans definitively believe that society is mobile and one can escape poverty with hard work. When asked about poverty, in fact about 60% of Americans believe that the poor are lazy while less than 30% of Europeans have the same beliefs. The same authors point out the large mismatch between these strong beliefs and available measures of actual mobility in Europe and US, but for our purposes what matters are individuals’ beliefs.

Given that European citizens seem so averse to inequality, and believe that the poor are stuck in poverty and worthy of help, they should favor redistributive policies, i.e. the welfare state. Broadly speaking this is the message of Boeri et al. (2000). In a survey conducted in three European countries they find that Germans, Italians and Spaniards are reluctant to favor cuts in welfare programs, even though they show a lack of clear understanding of the costs associated with them namely, they tend to understate the costs. Di Tella and MacCulloch (1996) find a desire for higher unemployment benefits in five out of six European countries (the exception being Norway) and a desire for lower or equal unemployment benefits in the United States and Australia.

The present paper is at the crossroads of two lines of research. One is the study of the determinants of ‘‘happiness’’. The economic literature started with Easterlin (1974), who documented stagnant average happiness levels in the US in the face of large increases in income, a question recently taken up by Blanchflower and Oswald (2000) and Inglehart (1996).6 A number of subsequent papers have focused on micro-economic aspects; including the role of being unemployed on self reported well-being (Clark and Oswald, 1994; Winkelmann and Winkelmann, 1998). Di Tella et al. (1997) show that the country- level ‘‘micro-happiness’’ regressions display a very similar structure across 12 OECD countries. That paper also takes a macro-perspective by including aggregate unemploy- ment and a measure of the generosity of the welfare state in these happiness regressions. Other work has used happiness data to study the role of democratic institutions (Granato et al., 1996; Frey and Stutzer, 1999), the inflation–unemployment trade-off (Di Tella et al., 2001; Wolfers, 2002), the role of partisanship in politics (Di Tella and MacCulloch, 1998) and the role of social norms (Stutzer and Lalive, 2000). An early paper by Morawetz et al. (1977) discusses how average happiness varies across two communities in Israel that have different levels of inequality.7

The second line of research is the literature on the determinants of preferences for redistribution. On the theoretical side, some of the key papers are Romer (1975) and Meltzer and Richards (1981) on inequality and redistributions, and Piketty (1995) and Benabou and Ok (2001) on social mobility. Recent empirical work on the demand for redistribution includes Alesina and La Ferrara (2000), Ravallion and Lokshin (2000), Corneo (2000) and Corneo and Gruner (2000). These papers find, looking at the data from the US, Europe and in one case, Russia, that social mobility does affect the preference for redistribution.

This paper is organized as follows. Section 2 describes our data set. Section 3 presents results for the US. Section 4 present results for European countries. In Section 5, we compare results for the US and Europe. The last section concludes.

2. Data and empirical strategy

2.1. Description

The analysis examines US happiness data from the United States General Social Survey (1972–1997) (see Davis and Smith, 1994). We use the happiness question that reads ‘‘Taken all together, how would you say things are these days—would you say that you are very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?’’ (small ‘‘Don’t know’’ and ‘‘No answer’’ categories are not studied here). This was asked in each of 25 years. In the main analysis, data limitations on state-level inequality data force us to restrict attention to the 19,895 answers that are available for the period 1981–1996.

For Europe, the source of happiness data is the Euro-barometer Survey Series (1975– 1992), which interviews a random sample of Europeans in each year and asked two questions, amongst others, that interest us (see Inglehart et al., 1994). The first is ‘‘Taking all things together, how would you say things are these days—would you say you’re very happy, fairly happy, or not too happy these days?’’ (small ‘‘Don’t know’’ and ‘‘No answer’’ categories are not studied here). The surveys also report the answers of a large number of individuals over 18 years of age to a ‘‘life satisfaction’’ question. This question is: ‘‘On the whole, are you very satisfied, fairly satisfied, not very satisfied or not at all satisfied with the life you lead?’’ (the small ‘‘Don’t know’’ and ‘‘No answer’’ categories are not studied here). We focus on life satisfaction data because they are available for a longer period of time—from 1975 to 1992 instead of just 1975–1986. ‘‘Happiness’’ and ‘‘life satisfaction’’ are highly correlated.

Because we are interested in comparing our results for Europe with those for the US, we coded the European data into similar categories. Since we have three categories for the US and four for Europe, we collapsed European responses that fell into the two bottom categories (not very satisfied and not at all satisfied) into one. In any case, very similar results obtain when the four categories are used for Europe. Appendix A describes both the US General Social Survey and the Euro-barometer Survey Series in greater detail.

For the United States, we take Gini coefficients of per state per year for the period 1981–1996 from Wu et al. (2002). They use income data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) March Supplement. Beginning in 1981, the CPS includes information on the value of government transfers, tax liability and credit for each family. Wu et al. then collect data from the American Housing Survey, the Income Survey Development Program and the Internal Revenue Service and combine them with the CPS data to create simulations of taxes paid, number of tax filing units, adjusted gross income, and other characteristics for the March CPS. Based on the augmented series, the authors construct the after-transfer, after-tax monetary income by adding the CPS income with the corresponding value of food stamps, tax payments or credits for each family. Based on these data, they create what to our knowledge is one of the best series of inequality measures at the state level for the US that we have available today. For more description of these data, see Wu et al. (2002).

For Europe, we use Gini coefficients from the Deininger and Squire (1996) data set. We use only part of their ‘‘high quality’’ data. These data satisfy three minimum standards of quality: they are based on household surveys, the population covered is representative of the entire country and the measure of income (or expenditure) used is comprehensive including income from self-employment, non-wage earnings as well as nonmonetary income. The data set is normally considered the best available for cross-country comparison and it is widely used. However, it is not without its drawbacks, as discussed by Atkinson and Brandolini (1999). The problems concern the fact that the Gini coefficients for different countries have not all been calculated using the same methods. For example, some are based on gross income, while others use net (disposable) income. In our sample, three observations for Denmark, three observations for France and four observations for Germany are based on gross income whereas the rest are based on net income. In addition, although the Deininger and Squire (1996) data set is largely based on the household as the choice of reference unit, some measurements are based at the individual level. Another difference between the country time series of Gini coefficients is that some use expenditure whereas others use income. In order to minimise problems caused by the differences in definitions and sources, we use only consistent time series of their ‘‘high quality’’ data within each country. The remaining differences in the bases used to estimate inequality across countries are at least partially controlled for by including country dummies. The definitions and sources of other variables used in the paper are described in Appendix A.

Tables A-US, B-US, A-Eur and B-Eur report some basic statistics for our US and European samples. Concerning ‘‘happiness’’, the patterns across Europe and the US seem similar, which is somewhat reassuring that the question is interpreted similarly in the two places. For a start, the breakdown between different levels of happiness in the sample is fairly similar in Europe and the US. For instance, about 57% in the US and 54% in Europe are in the intermediate category. Patterns of happiness and marital status are similar. Interestingly, looking across the columns denoting different income quartiles, personal income seems to have a stronger effect in the US than in Europe, an observation consistent with a larger share of public consumption and more progressive taxation in Europe than in the US.

(…)

6. Conclusion

Countries differ greatly in the degree of income inequality that they tolerate, even at similar stages of development. European observers object to the higher (and, for much of the past few decades, growing) inequality in the US. American commentators argue that European society’s ‘‘obsession’’ with inequality stifles creativity and creates a vicious circle of welfare addiction of the poor. Do these differences of opinion simply reflect different preferences about the merits of equality in the two sides of the Atlantic? Furthermore, is a preference for equality just a matter of ‘‘taste,’’ or does it reflect something else in society, such as the level of social mobility?

We use the answers to a simple well-being question. We simply correlate the answers to the well-being question asked to thousands of individuals in Europe and America over many years with measured levels of inequality. All that this method requires is an individual’s ability to introspect and evaluate his or her own happiness.

Our results show that, controlling for personal characteristics of the respondents, state/ country effects and year effects, individuals tend to declare lower happiness levels when inequality happens to be high. The effect in America seems to be less precisely estimated than in Europe, although the overall difference is not statistically significant. We then investigate differences across income and ideological groups. We find that the rich and the right-wingers in Europe are largely unaffected by inequality. Instead, we identify strong negative effects of inequality on the happiness of the European poor and leftists. In the US, the poor and the left-wingers are not affected by inequality, whereas the effect on the rich is negative and well defined. Comparing these groups across continents, we find that the European left is more affected by inequality than the American left. The difference appears to be large in size and very well defined statistically. There are no differences across the American right and the European right. In terms of income groups, there are no differences between the American rich and the European rich in terms of how inequality affects their reported happiness levels. The poor in Europe, however, are more affected by inequality than the American poor. The difference is very large in terms of size, although only statistically significant at the 10% level.

This suggests that European aversion to inequality does not originate in different preferences in the US and Europe. Suppose that ‘‘equality’’ is a luxury good, the demand for which rises with income more than proportionally, or even a normal good. Then we should find that the European rich dislike inequality more than the European poor, like in the US. A more reasonable interpretation is that opportunities for mobility are (or are perceived to be) higher in the US than in Europe.

Acknowledgements

We thank Eliana La Ferrara, Norman Loayza, Andrew Oswald, Thomas Piketty, three anonymous referees and participants in many seminars for their discussions and comments. We are very grateful to Rebecca Blank, Eliana La Ferrara, Jeff Perloff and Ximing Wu for their generous help with data. Min Shi provided excellent research assistance. Alesina gratefully acknowledges financial support form the NSF through the NBER.

1 For historical data on the growth of redistributive programs in industrial countries, see Tanzi and Schuknecht (2000). For a comparison of redistributive policies in the US and in Europe, see Alesina et al. (2001). 2 See Alesina et al. (2001) for a discussion and comparison of the evolution of European versus American welfare states.

3 See Benabou and Ok (2001) for a precise theoretical formulation of this idea and Alesina and La Ferrara

(2000) for empirical tests.

4 Given the lack of an established source in the literature, we experimented with different inequality data for the US. The data we use in this version of the paper are probably the most accurate. However, it is worth mentioning that with other data the effect of inequality on well-being in the US is even weaker and not statistically significant. For more discussion of this point, see the working paper version of this article.

5 Unfortunately, data problems make conclusive tests of this hypothesis concerning social mobility in the two sides of the Atlantic almost impossible, as noted by Atkinson et al. (1992). However, in an interesting comparison, Checchi et al. (1999) find that social mobility is higher in the US than in Italy. Bjorklund and Janiti (1997) find inconclusive results in their comparison of Sweden and the US.

6 There is, to be sure, a large literature in psychology using self reported measures of well-being (see Diener et al., 1999; Kahneman et al., 1999).

7 Our paper, and we believe much of the happiness literature, can be understood as an application of experienced utility, a concept that emphasises the pleasures derived from consumption (discussed in Kahneman and Thaler, 1991). It argues, in essence, that there are circumstances where measures of experienced utility can be derived (such as happiness responses) that are reasonable substitutes to observing individual choices. Ng (1996) discusses the theoretical structure of subjective well-being responses while Kahneman et al. (1997) propose a formal axiomatic defense of experienced utility (see also Tinbergen, 1991; van Praag, 1991).

8 Inglehart (1990) looks at the cross section. He finds some evidence of a positive correlation and offers some arguments explaining why the correlation may be spurious.

9 The ordered logit regressions are implemented using the Generalized Estimating Equation (GEE) setup developed by Liang and Zeger (1986). GEE allows for an unrestricted correlation structure within clusters and can be used for nonlinear models. It is GEE standard errors that are produced by the STATA cluster command. The operating characteristic of alternative cluster adjustments is an active area for current research. For further discussion, see Angrist and Lavy (2002), and for Monte Carlo evidence of alternative adjustment procedures, see for example, Agurzky and Schmidt (2001), Bertrand et al. (2001), Braun and Feng (2001) and Thornquist and Anderson (1992).

10 Stutzer and Frey (2003) use panel evidence from Germany to establish whether married people are happier, or whether happiness is a good predictor of getting married.

11 See Di Tella et al. (1997) for comparisons of happiness equations across individual OECD countries.

12 In the working paper version of this paper, we found no correlation between inequality and happiness in the US using inequality data (as measured by the Gini coefficient) at the state level from the 1979 and 1989 census. Even when we incorporate the 1969 census the coefficient on inequality in a US happiness regression remains insignificant. We also experimented using state inequality measures (the 80/20 ratio) created by the Economic Policy Institute with Current Population Survey data, averaged for 3 years every 10 years (i.e. 1978 – 1980, 1988 – 1990 and 1998 – 2000). Again the coefficient on inequality was insignificant in a US happiness regression. Finally, we used a measure of inequality (the 50/10) ratio presented in Blank (2001), calculated from annual wage data from the Outgoing Rotation Group (ORG) data of the monthly CPS, with similarly insignificant results.

13 For ordered logit, the conversion from coefficients to probability effects is calculated using the formula: DProbability(Person being in top happiness category)=1􏰀1/(1+exp(score+coefficient􏰁DX􏰀_b[_cut2]))􏰀 (1􏰀1/(1+exp(score􏰀_b[_cut2]))) where DX is the change in the explanatory variable, _b[_cut2] is the top cut point and score refers to the predicted value of the underling continuous variable.

14 Note that although our inequality measure has been calculated using equivalent income, the measure of income used in the US tables is measured at the household level. We ran all the identical regressions but dividing household income by the square root of family size (estimated using the available data we have on number of children). This gives a measure of equivalent income similar to those used to calculate our inequality data. The results remain almost identical.

15 States where inequality fell and happiness did not rise include Arkansas where between 1986 and 1994 the post-tax Gini fell from 0.38 to 0.33 and average happiness of the people there dropped over this time period (from 2.3 to 2.1 averaged over a cardinal 1 – 3 scale). Another example is Missouri where between 1983 and 1996 the Gini fell from 0.35 to 0.32 and average happiness also went down (from 2.4 to 2.2 averaged over a 1–3 scale).

16 In a regression of state inequality on state unemployment rates, controlling for country and year fixed effects, the coefficient on the unemployment rate is 0.457, significant at the 1% level (t-stat = 4.6).

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Voir enfin:

The Great Divide
Inequality Is a Choice
Joseph E. Stiglitz
Oinionator
October 13, 2013
The Great Divide is a series about inequality.

It’s well known by now that income and wealth inequality in most rich countries, especially the United States, have soared in recent decades and, tragically, worsened even more since the Great Recession. But what about the rest of the world? Is the gap between countries narrowing, as rising economic powers like China and India have lifted hundreds of millions of people from poverty? And within poor and middle-income countries, is inequality getting worse or better? Are we moving toward a more fair world, or a more unjust one?

These are complex questions, and new research by a World Bank economist named Branko Milanovic, along with other scholars, points the way to some answers.

Starting in the 18th century, the industrial revolution produced giant wealth for Europe and North America. Of course, inequality within these countries was appalling — think of the textile mills of Liverpool and Manchester, England, in the 1820s, and the tenements of the Lower East Side of Manhattan and the South Side of Chicago in the 1890s — but the gap between the rich and the rest, as a global phenomenon, widened even more, right up through about World War II. To this day, inequality between countries is far greater than inequality within countries.

But starting around the fall of Communism in the late 1980s, economic globalization accelerated and the gap between nations began to shrink. The period from 1988 to 2008 “might have witnessed the first decline in global inequality between world citizens since the Industrial Revolution,” Mr. Milanovic, who was born in the former Yugoslavia and is the author of “The Haves and the Have-Nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality,” wrote in a paper published last November. While the gap between some regions has markedly narrowed — namely, between Asia and the advanced economies of the West — huge gaps remain. Average global incomes, by country, have moved closer together over the last several decades, particularly on the strength of the growth of China and India. But overall equality across humanity, considered as individuals, has improved very little. (The Gini coefficient, a measurement of inequality, improved by just 1.4 points from 2002 to 2008.)

So while nations in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, as a whole, might be catching up with the West, the poor everywhere are left behind, even in places like China where they’ve benefited somewhat from rising living standards.

From 1988 to 2008, Mr. Milanovic found, people in the world’s top 1 percent saw their incomes increase by 60 percent, while those in the bottom 5 percent had no change in their income. And while median incomes have greatly improved in recent decades, there are still enormous imbalances: 8 percent of humanity takes home 50 percent of global income; the top 1 percent alone takes home 15 percent. Income gains have been greatest among the global elite — financial and corporate executives in rich countries — and the great “emerging middle classes” of China, India, Indonesia and Brazil. Who lost out? Africans, some Latin Americans, and people in post-Communist Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, Mr. Milanovic found.

The United States provides a particularly grim example for the world. And because, in so many ways, America often “leads the world,” if others follow America’s example, it does not portend well for the future.

On the one hand, widening income and wealth inequality in America is part of a trend seen across the Western world. A 2011 study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that income inequality first started to rise in the late ’70s and early ’80s in America and Britain (and also in Israel). The trend became more widespread starting in the late ’80s. Within the last decade, income inequality grew even in traditionally egalitarian countries like Germany, Sweden and Denmark. With a few exceptions — France, Japan, Spain — the top 10 percent of earners in most advanced economies raced ahead, while the bottom 10 percent fell further behind.

But the trend was not universal, or inevitable. Over these same years, countries like Chile, Mexico, Greece, Turkey and Hungary managed to reduce (in some cases very high) income inequality significantly, suggesting that inequality is a product of political and not merely macroeconomic forces. It is not true that inequality is an inevitable byproduct of globalization, the free movement of labor, capital, goods and services, and technological change that favors better-skilled and better-educated employees.

Of the advanced economies, America has some of the worst disparities in incomes and opportunities, with devastating macroeconomic consequences. The gross domestic product of the United States has more than quadrupled in the last 40 years and nearly doubled in the last 25, but as is now well known, the benefits have gone to the top — and increasingly to the very, very top.

Last year, the top 1 percent of Americans took home 22 percent of the nation’s income; the top 0.1 percent, 11 percent. Ninety-five percent of all income gains since 2009 have gone to the top 1 percent. Recently released census figures show that median income in America hasn’t budged in almost a quarter-century. The typical American man makes less than he did 45 years ago (after adjusting for inflation); men who graduated from high school but don’t have four-year college degrees make almost 40 percent less than they did four decades ago.

American inequality began its upswing 30 years ago, along with tax decreases for the rich and the easing of regulations on the financial sector. That’s no coincidence. It has worsened as we have under-invested in our infrastructure, education and health care systems, and social safety nets. Rising inequality reinforces itself by corroding our political system and our democratic governance.

And Europe seems all too eager to follow America’s bad example. The embrace of austerity, from Britain to Germany, is leading to high unemployment, falling wages and increasing inequality. Officials like Angela Merkel, the newly re-elected German chancellor, and Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, argue that Europe’s problems are a result of a bloated welfare spending. But that line of thinking has only taken Europe into recession (and even depression). That things may have bottomed out — that the recession may be “officially” over — is little comfort to the 27 million out of a job in the E.U. On both sides of the Atlantic, the austerity fanatics say, march on: these are the bitter pills that we need to take to achieve prosperity. But prosperity for whom?

Excessive financialization — which helps explain Britain’s dubious status as the second-most-unequal country, after the United States, among the world’s most advanced economies — also helps explain the soaring inequality. In many countries, weak corporate governance and eroding social cohesion have led to increasing gaps between the pay of chief executives and that of ordinary workers — not yet approaching the 500-to-1 level for America’s biggest companies (as estimated by the International Labor Organization) but still greater than pre-recession levels. (Japan, which has curbed executive pay, is a notable exception.) American innovations in rent-seeking — enriching oneself not by making the size of the economic pie bigger but by manipulating the system to seize a larger slice — have gone global.

Asymmetric globalization has also exerted its toll around the globe. Mobile capital has demanded that workers make wage concessions and governments make tax concessions. The result is a race to the bottom. Wages and working conditions are being threatened. Pioneering firms like Apple, whose work relies on enormous advances in science and technology, many of them financed by government, have also shown great dexterity in avoiding taxes. They are willing to take, but not to give back.

Inequality and poverty among children are a special moral disgrace. They flout right-wing suggestions that poverty is a result of laziness and poor choices; children can’t choose their parents. In America, nearly one in four children lives in poverty; in Spain and Greece, about one in six; in Australia, Britain and Canada, more than one in 10. None of this is inevitable. Some countries have made the choice to create more equitable economies: South Korea, where a half-century ago just one in 10 people attained a college degree, today has one of the world’s highest university completion rates.

For these reasons, I see us entering a world divided not just between the haves and have-nots, but also between those countries that do nothing about it, and those that do. Some countries will be successful in creating shared prosperity — the only kind of prosperity that I believe is truly sustainable. Others will let inequality run amok. In these divided societies, the rich will hunker in gated communities, almost completely separated from the poor, whose lives will be almost unfathomable to them, and vice versa. I’ve visited societies that seem to have chosen this path. They are not places in which most of us would want to live, whether in their cloistered enclaves or their desperate shantytowns.

3 commentaires pour Inégalités: Attention, une inégalité peut en cacher une autre ! (Inequality and happiness: are Europeans and Americans different?)

  1. […] s’étonner, avec l’étude d’une équipe d’économistes de Princeton il y a dix ans, de cette étrange inégalité de réaction d’une classe ouvrière américaine […]

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  2. […] l’heure où, pour faire avaler sa pilule socialiste,  le Handicapeur en chef menace désormais de gouverner par décret […]

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  3. jcdurbant dit :

    Tout à fait d’accord mais si c’est pour nous vendre Juppé, non merci !

    Produits monstrueux de la modernité et de l’archaïsme, et promoteurs d’une revalorisation très contemporaine de la violence «révolutionnaire», ces phénomènes divers convergent en quelque sorte dans un populisme polymorphe dont le trait dominant demeure l’expression d’une parole de vérité, d’une orthodoxie dont la légitimité de l’imposition résiderait dans un peuple hypostasié ou en dieu. Des intellectuels fraternisent avec les nouveaux «damnés de la terre» que seraient les «exclus», des déclassés de toutes catégories ou craignant de l’être s’indignent contre les puissants, un antisémitisme se développe au non de l’antisionisme, des femmes travaillent à leur propre oppression en s’affirmant féministes, et une foule de «victimes» revendiquent réparation. Car comme le disait Tocqueville, «nulle part le despotisme ne doit produire des effets plus pernicieux que dans ces sociétés-là», à savoir les sociétés démocratiques, les sociétés «modernes» qui connaissent, même si elles ne les pratiquent pas voire même si elles s’y opposent, les principes démocratiques fondamentaux de l’égalité dans l’exercice de la liberté individuelle et de la légitimation par le libre choix des populations. Le phénomène islamiste, totalitarisme du troisième type, est alors devenu comme le révélateur le plus monstrueux de ces dérives, focalisateur paradoxal, attracteur étrange de forces opposées, point aveugle des sociétés démocratiques parmi les plus difficiles mais aussi les plus impérieusement nécessaires à éclairer et à affronter. Face aux nouveaux autoritaires et au nouveau totalitarisme islamiste, les libéraux de droite et de gauche, optimistes comme pessimistes, progressistes ou conservateurs, se retrouvent face à tous ceux qui attaquent et combattent les libertés individuelles et notamment la libre pensée, la liberté des mœurs et la liberté d’expression. Les libéraux commencent timidement et avec retard à se solidariser contre le justicialisme punitif qui condamne, conspue et moleste au nom d’un égalitarisme revanchard, contre l’islamisme qui impose sa parole de vérité à tous et condamne à mort les blasphémateurs, les apostats, les athées, les mécréants, les femmes non soumises, les homosexuels et tous ceux qui ne se rangent pas à leur interprétation de l’islam, contre l’autoritarisme de régimes théocratiques ou séculiers qui travaillent au «democracy containment» (empêchement de mesures démocratiques au niveau national et international). Certes, le clivage droite/gauche a historiquement recouvert différentes oppositions: monarchistes/républicains, cléricaux/anticléricaux, inégalités naturelles/égalité de droit, conservateurs/progressistes, libre-échangisme/régulateurs, et il n’est pas épuisé aujourd’hui. Mais le sens du clivage droite/gauche actuel est sans doute davantage à chercher dans la combinaison des héritages historiques auxquels on se réfère de chaque côté. Les définitions de la droite et de la gauche sont alors de plus en plus composites, comme celle proposée par Kolakowski et adoptée par Finkielkraut qui s’affirme toujours de gauche mais «conservateur, libéral et socialiste» ou comme pouvait déjà le faire Léon Blum en 1936: «révolutionnaire, républicain et réformiste».Les autoritaires quant à eux, peuvent aussi être de droite et de gauche, comme les libéraux, mais ils avancent masqués, subvertissant le sens des mots, prenant le réel à revers, luttant à fronts renversés. L’autoritarisme contemporain combine ainsi trois idéaux-types: le justicier qui venge les «victimes» et brutalise les élites prétendument corrompues, perverses et licencieuses, le censeur moralisant qui fait taire les anticonformistes et les libres penseurs, et soutient la servitude volontaire, l’autocrate promoteur d’un régime de type démocrature (c’est-à-dire des dictatures déguisées en démocratie par la tenue d’élection non libres) qui prétend défendre la «vraie» démocratie et rassure par sa manière forte. Les tenants d’une certaine gauche dite «radicale», de fait autoritaire, par leurs références et leurs modes d’action, se sont approprié le progressisme, les islamo-gauchistes ont transformé la laïcité en défense du multiculturalisme et en tolérance d’une religion mortifère au motif qu’elle serait celle des faibles, des exclus, des «stigmatisés», les néo-bolcheviques projettent une révolution qui ne dit pas sont nom. La gauche libérale, laïque, démocratique et sociale est alors davantage politico-compatible avec une droite républicaine et régulatrice qu’avec cette «gauche» autoritaire, potentiellement violente, et idiots utiles de l’islamisme. Le clivage droite/gauche n’est donc pas impertinent mais est passé au second plan derrière l’affrontement libéraux/autoritaires.

    Renée Fregosi

    http://www.lefigaro.fr/vox/societe/2016/04/29/31003-20160429ARTFIG00328-le-clivage-determinant-liberaux-autoritaires.php?redirect_premium

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