Here is a disturbing fact: the richest 10% of the world’s population own 86% of its wealth, while the bottom half own just 1%. We live in a staggeringly unequal world.
Here’s a second disturbing fact: with median per capita wealth of $220,000 Australia is the richest country in the world on a per capita basis, yet we have just cut our foreign aid budget on the grounds that we can’t afford it.
The figures come from the Credit Suisse World Wealth Report 2013, and they highlight just how selfish we have grown, and how far perception is from reality. Most of us Aussies are incredibly wealthy, but we don’t feel wealthy because the more wealthy we grow, the greater our material aspirations become.
What’s more, studies in happiness show that all this extra wealth hasn’t made us any happier. We tend to measure our wellbeing by comparing ourselves to those around us. So even though we’re getting richer, we’re no richer compared to our peers and so no happier.
In fact, research suggests that increasing wealth is detrimental to us. Contrary to popular opinion, the wealthier you are the more likely you are to be dishonest, to lack empathy, and less likely to be generous.
What are we to do about this? What if we revised our aspirations? What if we aspired to make the world a better place and measured success this way? Not only would the world be a better place, but we’d be the happier for it