Letting economic inequality flourish in a country can make its citizens unhappy, according to a new study.

The research, by Dr David Bartram of the University of Leicester, will be presented at the British Sociological Association's annual online conference on April 21, according to media reports.

The study was conducted in 78 countries over about four decades. This is the largest longitudinal study of its kind.

"When inequality increases, people with high incomes do not benefit much from their earnings: many rich people look at those who have even more than they do, and never feel like they have enough. But people who earn little really suffer by staying more laggards: they feel left out and frustrated that they can't keep up with even the average earners," Bartram told The Guardian.

The research has examined data from a survey on levels of life satisfaction. In it, people rated their life satisfaction on a scale of one to ten. He also related it to the Gini coefficient figures, which is a measure of inequality, from 1981 to 2020.

In 1981, life satisfaction in the UK was 7.7, when it was in recession. Later, the economic boom led to inequality and the figure fell to 7.4 in 1999.

"The UK data feed into a more general conclusion: in rich countries, rising inequality has a substantial negative impact on life satisfaction, and inequality has increased in most rich countries in recent decades," he added. Bartram.

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