Percarity and wealth inequality


It has been observed that high wealth inequality in a society is associated with less happiness. I hypothesize that this is because wealth inequality is correlated with precarity, and that the state of precarity is the actual cause of unhappiness.

As a corollary, it should be possible to have a society with high inequality of wealth and low precarity. A possible example is medieval Europe, in which extended families provided a social safety net, and we also see structures such as guilds and feudal arrangements providing stability. For example, guilds often maintained hospitals for their members. People were secure in their positions, and were assured of the security of their children too, despite the existence of people much poorer and/or richer.

In contrast, the USA has achieved an exquisitely precarious society. Family is stripped back to a barely-functional nucleus, which is expected to move to wherever work takes it. Health insurance is tied to having a job. A job that may be lost at any moment. Social welfare is weak. Strong social ties are discouraged in favour of individualism. It's a perfect motivational system for a precariat of white collar workers. This must be by design. That it causes misery is an unintended by-product.