A study of 1.6 million people ties high incomes with more positive emotions and fewer negative ones, but only towards the self.
- A review of data from 1.6 million people shows that higher incomes relate to more positive feelings about the self.
- Feelings towards others were not affected by higher incomes.
- The findings have implications for those hoping to improve society by raising incomes alone.
Perhaps there is a reason why Scrooge didn't start off caring about other people.<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/rR5gViXEOxo" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p> While people consistently reported increasingly positive self-regarding emotions as their incomes rose, their stances towards other people didn't change much. </p><p>Other-regarding emotions, which can refer to specific people, groups of people, or humankind in general, can include familiar feelings like gratitude, love, compassion, or anger. To the authors' surprise, the data they reviewed showed little to no relationship between increasing incomes and positive or negative other-regarding emotions. As Dr. Tong <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/03/210304100351.htm" target="_blank">explained</a>: </p><p>"Having more money doesn't necessarily make a person more compassionate and grateful, and greater wealth may not contribute to building a more caring and tolerant society."</p><p>While some of the studies reviewed suggested a positive relationship between income and positive other-regarding emotions, the mixed results mean that no association can be confirmed.</p>
What are the implications of this?<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UEsK7hpIkVI" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p> Dr. Tong summarized the findings' implications for <a href="https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2021/03/higher-income-pride-confidence" target="_blank">policymakers</a>:</p><p> "Policies aimed at raising the income of the average person and boosting the economy may contribute to emotional well-being for individuals. However, it may not necessarily contribute to emotional experiences that are important for communal harmony." </p><p>On a more personal level, these findings remind us that money isn't everything but that it is something. Dr. Tong remarked:</p><p> "The effects of income on our emotional well-being should not be underestimated. Having more money can inspire confidence and determination while earning less is associated with gloom and anxiety."</p><p>The parts of the study focusing on self-control as a mediator also tied to other studies suggesting that autonomy is good for people.</p><p>A recent study on the matriarchal culture of the <a href="https://bigthink.com/culture-religion/matriarchy-mosuo-health" target="_blank">Mosuo people</a> shows that the women living in villages where they weld power over their own lives are healthier than other Mosuo women living in patriarchal villages. While the study didn't suggest that no health issues existed in these societies, it did note improvements in comparison to others. </p><p>Like any other study, this one was not perfect, and there are reasons you should take these findings with a little salt.</p><p>This study was correlational and cannot prove causation. It could be the case that some unknown factor connects higher incomes with these positive emotions, for example. Further studies will be needed to demonstrate causation. Additionally, while the effect was noteworthy and consistent in countries on every continent and of all economic development levels, the effect was not massive. The findings do not suggest that higher income levels are a silver bullet effective against all negative self-regard. </p><p>Even with those caveats, this study's findings are an important improvement on the previous literature on this subject. While the connection between income and self-regard is limited, it is significant enough to suggest that millions of people's emotional states can be improved by focusing on their finances, even if that won't be enough to build a caring society for them to live in.</p><p> Of course, at that point, they might be well off and self-assured enough not to mind as much, but that's another problem.</p>
A new MIT report proposes how humans should prepare for the age of automation and artificial intelligence.
- A new report by MIT experts proposes what humans should do to prepare for the age of automation.
- The rise of intelligent machines is coming but it's important to resolve human issues first.
- Improving economic inequality, skills training, and investment in innovation are necessary steps.
1. Increase private sector investment in skills and training<p>The group pinpoints the importance of private sector investment in training employees, especially with the purpose of increasing the upward mobility for lower-wage and less-educated workers. This will particularly affect minority workers, who are overrepresented in this group. The report estimates only about half of employees get training from their employers in any given year. </p>
2. Significantly increase federal funding for training programs<p>The report advocates getting the government to fund training programs that can help lead to middle-class jobs for workers who don't have a four-year college degree. </p>
3. Support community colleges<p>The research team thinks community colleges should be supported by the federal government's money and policies to advance programs that connect employers to the education being received by students. The policies should be aimed at raising degree completion rates at community colleges. </p>
4. Invest in innovative training methods<p>Demonstration and field testing programs that work out new retraining and reemployment ideas should be given particular focus, according to the MIT scientists. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Innovation improves the quantity, quality, and variety of work that a worker can accomplish in a given time," <a href="https://workofthefuture.mit.edu/research-post/the-work-of-the-future-building-better-jobs-in-an-age-of-intelligent-machines/" target="_blank">wrote</a> the report's authors. "This rising productivity, in turn, enables improving living standards and the flourishing of human endeavors. Indeed, in what should be a virtuous cycle, rising productivity provides society with the resources to invest in those whose livelihoods are disrupted by the changing structure of work.</p>
5. Restore the real value of the federal minimum wage<p>The report spotlights the growing economic disparity between low-paid workers and the rest of society. Compared to Canadians, for example, low-paid Americans earn 26 percent less. Government policy should make sure people in traditionally low-paid service jobs like cleaning, groundskeeping, food service, entertainment, recreation, and health assistance get adequate pay and some economic security. To that end, the researchers propose that the minimum wage should be raised to at least 40 percent of the national median wage. This value should also be indexed to inflation. </p>
6. Modernize and extend unemployment insurance (UI) benefits<p>Several measures are recommended to improve unemployment insurance and extend it to workers that aren't usually covered. The report suggests allowing workers to count their most recent earnings to determine eligibility, determining eligibility based on hours rather than earnings, dropping the requirement that unemployed seek full-time work (because many hold part-time jobs), and reforming partial UI benefits from the states. </p>
7. Strengthen and adapt labor laws<p>Labor laws need to be both improved and better enforced, states the report. Contraction of private sector labor unions makes it harder for rank-and-file workers to bargain for wage growth that matches the growth of productivity growth. How workers are represented needs to be innovated as much as the technologies. Current U.S. laws "retard the development of alternative approaches," write the researchers. For example, due to racial politics during the New Deal, sectors of the American workforce like domestic workers and agricultural workers are unable to participate in collective bargaining.</p>
8. Increase federal research spending<p>In a proposal aimed at fostering innovation and making sure its benefits are experienced by workers, the MIT group thinks it's key to increase government spending on research, especially in areas not addressed by the private sector. These tend to involve longer-term research that addresses the social impacts of new technologies, zeroing in on major national problems, climate change, human health and similar larger research topics. Investing into research on human-centered AI, collaborative robotics and the science of education should be a part of this approach.</p><p>Small and medium-sized businesses should receive targeted government assistance to allow them to increase productivity via the new tech, advises the MIT team. </p>
9. Expand the geography of innovation in the United States<p>Innovation is increasingly "concentrated geographically," think the researchers. For a country that has so many universities, entrepreneurs, and workers that are spread throughout, the benefits of innovation should be made available not only to more workers, but also to more of the country's regions. Each state can have its own Silicon Valley.</p>
10. Rebalance taxes on capital and labor<p>Innovation is necessary in the tax law as well, according to the report. It's important to change the manner in which the current tax code "unduly favors investments in capital" by eliminating accelerated depreciation allowances, applying corporate income tax equally to all corporations, and instituting an employer training tax credit.</p><p><a href="https://workofthefuture.mit.edu/research-post/the-work-of-the-future-building-better-jobs-in-an-age-of-intelligent-machines/" target="_blank">Read the full report here.</a></p>
What would happen if the U.S. guaranteed every citizen a job with a living wage and benefits?
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- A new book from Pavlina Tcherneva, chair of the economics department at New York's Bard College, makes the case for a "Job Guarantee" federal program.
- The program would grant jobs to every citizen who's willing and able to work.
- A 2019 poll found that a majority of Americans would support a federally funded jobs program.
$15 minimum wage and benefits<p>Jobs granted through the program would offer at least $15 per hour, and this base wage would remain flexible to match inflation over time. The Job Guarantee would also provide workers with health insurance, paid leave, childcare, and possibly fewer hours than the current 40-hour standard work week.<br></p><p>Establishing standards like these, Tcherneva argues, would pressure private firms to treat and pay workers better, considering that now they'd have more employment options and wouldn't have to settle for <a href="https://www.jacobinmag.com/2020/06/case-for-job-guarantee-review-pavlina-tcherneva" target="_blank">poor working conditions</a>.</p>
Jobs would be funded federally, administered locally<p>Across the U.S., unemployment offices would be converted into employment offices. The unemployed would be able to enter these offices and "leave with a list of employment options, public-service opportunities you'll be able to access locally," Tcherneva told Vox.<br></p><p>What would those jobs look like? Tcherneva offered some examples: performing weatherization on a local <a href="https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2020/5/4/21243725/coronavirus-unemployment-cares-act-federal-job-guarantee-green-new-deal-pavlina-tcherneva" target="_blank">hardware store</a>, replacing lead pipes on a construction site, helping out at a homeless shelter, or working on local <a href="https://therealnews.com/stories/why-the-green-new-deal-includes-a-jobs-guarantee" target="_blank">alternative-energy projects</a>.</p><p>The federal government would remain mostly hands off, allowing state and local governments to decide which public projects to pursue, and how to allocate resources.</p>
The program would be 'counter-cyclical'<p><span style="background-color: initial;">In the current economic system, unemployment spreads like a virus: people lose their jobs, stop spending money, businesses are forced to shut down, and so on.</span><br></p><p>A Job Guarantee could act as a buffer that absorbs unemployed people before they fall to the bottom rungs of the economic ladder. And this could help to stabilize the economy during recessions, assuming these workers continued to spend money. As the economy improves, workers could move back to their previous jobs, or to other employment options.</p>
How the U.S. might pay for a Job Guarantee<p>Tcherneva doesn't deny that a Job Guarantee would require <a href="https://therealnews.com/stories/why-the-green-new-deal-includes-a-jobs-guarantee" target="_blank">massive public investment</a>, but she notes that what's lacking isn't the money, but political will. What's more, she notes the high social costs of having a large swath of the American workforce remain, more or less, permanently unemployed.<br></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"I came to the Jobs Guarantee from a macroeconomic perspective — the realization that we were using unemployed people as a kind of "buffer stock" to control inflation," she told the <a href="https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/books/story/2020-06-24/forget-ubi-says-an-economist-its-time-for-universal-basic-jobs" target="_blank">Los Angeles Times</a>. "Having unemployed people means that when the economy grows, those people would be there to take those jobs."</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"But what if we could use <em>employment</em> as a buffer stock? That's obviously the superior option. I realized that you couldn't just argue about this as a macroeconomic policy, you have to bring in the human rights framework, the moral framework. You have to think about the kind of neglect, the health effects, the pain that unemployment inflicts on people who want to work."</p><p>According to <a href="http://www.levyinstitute.org/publications/the-job-guarantee-design-jobs-and-implementation" target="_blank">projections</a> from the Levy Institute, with which Tcherneva is affiliated, the program would cost about 1.5 percent of the U.S. GDP, boost real GDP by half a trillion dollars, and create 3 to 4 million jobs.</p>
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The pandemic has given us an early glimpse at how truly disruptive the fourth industrial revolution may be, and the measures we'll need to support human dignity.
- The coronavirus crisis has acted as a catalyst for two powerful transformative forces: automation and universal basic income.
- These two intertwined forces will undoubtedly gain steam, writes Frederick Kuo, and the pandemic will hasten the acceptance of them from a scale of decades to years or mere months.
- This crisis has ushered in a glimpse of what a dystopian future could look like as a rapidly advancing fourth industrial revolution inevitably causes severe disruption in our economy and labor structure.