The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse Summary

The SQUEEZE: Although Western life has improved over the past century, men and women today still feel unhappier than previous generations. Why is this feeling of discontent a prevailing problem in a culture that looks vastly different from its beginnings? Gregg Easterbrook answers this question in “The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse.” In the book, Easterbrook provides tips for dealing with the problems of everyday life within the context of abundance. It is a common belief that the parents of previous generations had it better. However, this belief currently encourages the argument that life today is filled with unhappiness where depression and stress are prevalent and the living standard continues to rise. Easterbrook bases many of his assumptions in the book on three decades of research, centering the content on an emerging science called “positive psychology.” Throughout the book Easterbrook explores the role of 9/11 and common problems related to crime and global warming. Eastbrook’s findings reveal that many of the problems that continue to permeate Western culture have their roots in the pursuit of self-interest.

 Notable Endorsement: The Progress Paradox raises some provocative questions. . . . This is a book meant to challenge left and right–keep both sides off balance. . . . A welcome antidote to the demagoguery prevalent in political discussion today.” –Los Angeles Times

Common Q’s Answered by this Book:

  • What is the “progress paradox”?
  • What is “positive psychology?
  • What role does 9/11 play in the decrease of happiness and the increase of crime?
  • What are some common contributors to depression and stress in Western life?
  • What are the current beliefs that oppose and/or support modern capitalism?

About the Author: Gregg Easterbrook is a writer, lecturer, and senior editor of The New Republic. Born March 3, 1953 in Buffalo, New York, Easterbrook has written articles for Slate, The Atlantic Monthly, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Wired. His recent experiences include serving as a fellow at the Brookings Institution and writing a column for Easterbrook graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Colorado College and went on to receive a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. Easterbrook’s current novel, “The Leading Indicators,” is available on For more information about Easterbrook’s writings and future projects, visit:


Book Vitals:

Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks (November 2004)

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