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Something of Values

Jul 11, 2008
People who don't know where their next meal is coming from tend to have different values from those who have never known hunger or any other deprivation. This would seem like a self-evident statement that wouldn't need 17 pages of single-spaced text detailing a 35-year study to bolster it. But that's the world of the think tank for you, and the results of the World Values Survey (WVS), “Changing Values among Western Publics from 1970 to 2006,” recently published in the journal West European Politics1 can pretty much be summed up by that first sentence.

The good news is that those changing intergenerational values are becoming more tolerant of diversity, more directed toward self-expression, and less materialistic. And people who hold those more liberal values are maintaining them as they grow older.

The bad news: Liberalizing populations are pretty much limited to North America and Western Europe and other places (Japan, Australia) where the standard of living for most people has managed to creep above the poverty line. Still, it is good to know that as affluence does afflict a people, it renders them, as a group, rather more than less tolerant—and tolerable—than they were before.
1Volume 31, Numbers 1-2, January-March 2008, pp. 130-146.
tags: Human Rights | History

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