Perhaps the contradiction is more apparent than real. If so please set me straight.
The inequality folks like Wilkinson and Pickett argue – convincingly, to my mind - that those at the top of the income spectrum do hugely better on a wide range of objective well being indicators (eg longevity) than those at the middle and bottom.
But the happiness folks are telling us that income is not well connected to subjective well being beyond a very basic threshold, so happiness is higher in relatively low income communities like Sherbrooke than in Toronto or Vancouver.
For some reason, progressives seem to have glommed on to to the idea that the level of income doesn’t count for much beyond a basic threshold.
How to square the circle?
My take is that the burdens of being at the bottom may be alleviated – but not hugely so – by living in a solidaristic lower income community.
And if folks at the bottom of the income spectrum are “happy”, they shouldn’t be.