Are Low Taxes Taxing Our Happiness?

Americans have found solace in paying low or no taxes since a certain dumping of tea into Boston Harbor in 1773. Low taxes have contributed to the psychology behind the country's economic individualism, but have they made us happy?

An OECD study collates research Gallup gathered in 2008 to rank countries by order of relative happiness. Those that ranked high generally had high tax rates and modest GDP per capita.

The Netherlands, Finland  and Denmark, where citizens pay the lion's share of the earnings to the state, rank as the top three happiest countries. The United States, where tax rates hover between 15 and 25 percent, ranked 11th on the happiness scale.

The three European countries have an average GDP per capita of roughly $39,000 per year, compared to $47,000 in the U.S.

The OECD's findings stand somewhat contradictory to the Pew Center's Andrew Kohut whose research has shown the happiest people are those who earn more.

When one adds in the extra expenditures--for health care, education, public transit--many economists calculate Americans pay close to European tax rates, just not directly. And the services Americans receive are often fewer and less comprehensive than those in Europe.

All of this contributes to a sense of worry that Thomas Kostigen notes could be reducing our overall share of happiness.

Further Reading:

OECD's Society At A Glance which survey which countries sleep more and eat more

Big Think
Sponsored by Lumina Foundation

Upvote/downvote each of the videos below!

As you vote, keep in mind that we are looking for a winner with the most engaging social venture pitch - an idea you would want to invest in.

Keep reading Show less

Scientists figure out how to trap dark matter

A new method promises to capture an elusive dark world particle.

Surprising Science
  • Scientists working on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) devised a method for trapping dark matter particles.
  • Dark matter is estimated to take up 26.8% of all matter in the Universe.
  • The researchers will be able to try their approach in 2021, when the LHC goes back online.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists create a "lifelike" material that has metabolism and can self-reproduce

An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.

Shogo Hamada/Cornell University
Surprising Science
  • Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
  • The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
  • The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
Keep reading Show less
  • As a stand-up comedian, Pete Holmes knows how words can manipulate audiences — for good and bad.
  • Words aren't just words. They stich together our social fabric, helping establish and maintain relationships.
  • Holmes has a clever linguistic exercise meant to bring you closer to the people around you.