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Cass R. Sunstein

Nobel Economist Showed We're Helping the Wrong People

Angus Deaton found that happiness is mostly constant once you make $75,000 a year.
Money doesn't equal happiness. (The Nobel helps.)

Money doesn't equal happiness. (The Nobel helps.)

Photograph: Princeton University

Presidential candidates from both parties are focusing, as usual, on the middle class. But what’s that? And why, exactly, does it deserve such attention?

Princeton’s Angus Deaton, who on Monday was announced as the latest winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize for economics, has offered some intriguing answers. The most important is this: If you care about how people actually experience their lives, you should be concerned about people who earn less than $75,000 per year. Above that amount, Deaton’s evidence suggests that more money may not particularly matter.