47 pages 1 hour read

John de Graaf, David Wann, Thomas Naylor


Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 2001

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Part 1, Chapters 7-10

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 1: “Symptoms”

Part 1, Chapter 7 Summary: “Social Scars”

The “social scars” of affluenza referred to in the title of Chapter 7 are the deep rifts of income inequality that have accelerated in the United States over the past few decades. The authors quote several economic figures on the distribution of income, taxation, poverty, and charitable contributions to show that the wealthiest Americans are taking home more and more of the dividends of affluenza while giving back less and less to the rest of us (69-71). The salaries and assets of CEOs and other corporate executives have skyrocketed, while low-wage workers in the service and cleaning industries struggle to make ends meet. In yet another comparison between the US and Europe, the authors note that the richest Americans are less happy than their counterparts in more egalitarian societies like Denmark (74).

Despite the growing gap between rich and poor in the US, the authors argue that people in less fortunate communities at home and in developing nations abroad are showing the signs of infection with affluenza. The mistaken model of happiness and well-being through money, consumption, and accumulation has successfully spread across the planet.

The destruction brought about by the global outbreak of affluenza is poignantly demonstrated by the opening

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