Wednesday, September 15, 2010

African Americans Closing Racial Gap in Happiness

Source:  New York Times. Click here for the full image.
Black people have long gotten the short end of the stick in America. To this day, black unemployment is double that of whites, just like it was in 1975. The income gap between races is also growing. Today, however, David Leonhardt of The New York Times reports that African Americans are making significant progress in one important category:  levels of happiness.

A new study by Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, economists from the University of Pennsylvania, finds that levels of happiness in Caucasians have stayed pretty much the same since the '70s. On the other hand, happiness in African Americans has risen by at least 5% in that same time period. This may not seem like much, but Mr. Wolfers explains that it is "one of the most dramatic gains in the happiness data that you’ll see."

As you can see from the graph, a significant happiness gap still exists, but if Caucasian happiness stays the same (which is likely), the gap may close within the next few decades. The study does not claim to know why the gap is closing, but one theory is the huge drop in racism from the 1970s to now (though of course we still have a ways to go before racism is gone completely).

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