In light of President Obama’s speech last night, which revealed his proposed American Jobs Act, studies show that countries with more progressive tax rates that put higher taxes on the wealthy are actually linked to happier citizens.

As the Huffington Post reports, a University of Virginia study compared tax rates in 54 different countries and found that countries that had higher tax brackets for wealthier citizens — places like Norway, Denmark, Finland and Sweden — ranked highest for “overall contentedness.”

These countries, the study noted, tax their rich citizens at a much higher rate than their poor.

The well-being was ranked on a scale of 1 to 10 from “worst” to “best possible life” in regards to their daily experiences in the country as well as “the participants’ satisfaction with their nation’s public goods, from schools to clean air,” according to an Association for Psychological Science press release.

The study found that the residents of countries with the most progressive tax rates were more likely to rate their lives closer to “the best possible” and had more positive daily experiences than negative ones when compared with participants from countries with different tax rates.

Researcher Shigehiro Oishi told APS this happiness is “explained by a greater degree of satisfaction with the public goods, such as housing, education and public transportation.”

“Higher government spending per se did not yield greater happiness, in spite of the well-being that was associated with satisfaction with state-funded services. In fact, there was a slight negative correlation between government spending and average happiness.”

“If the goal of societies is to make citizens happy, tax policy matters,” Oishi said. “Certain policies, like tax progressivity, seem to be more conducive to the happiness of the people.”

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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