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Subjective Well-Being and Income: Is There Any Evidence of Satiation?

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  • Betsey Stevenson
  • Justin Wolfers

Abstract

Many scholars have argued that once "basic needs" have been met, further rises in income are not associated with further increases in subjective well-being. We assess the validity of this claim in comparisons of both rich and poor countries, and also of rich and poor people within a country. Analyzing multiple datasets, multiple definitions of "basic needs" and multiple questions about well-being, we find no support for this claim. The relationship between well-being and income is roughly log-linear and does not diminish as incomes rise. If there is a satiation point, we are yet to reach it.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 103 (2013)
Issue (Month): 3 (May)
Pages: 598-604

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:103:y:2013:i:3:p:598-604

Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.103.3.598
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References

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  1. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, . "What can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," IEW - Working Papers 080, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  2. Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2008. "Happiness Adaptation to Income beyond "Basic Needs"," NBER Working Papers 14539, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Clark, Andrew E. & Frijters, Paul & Shields, Michael A., 2007. "Relative Income, Happiness and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," IZA Discussion Papers 2840, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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Cited by:
  1. Chrostek, Pawel, 2013. "An empirical investigation into the determinants and persistence of happiness and life evaluation," MPRA Paper 50442, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Dorsett, Richard & Oswald, Andrew J., 2014. "Human Well-being and In-Work Benefits: A Randomized Controlled Trial," IZA Discussion Papers 7943, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Pablo Gluzmann, 2013. "Bienestar subjetivo y crecimiento económico: analizando la paradoja del crecimiento infeliz en la Encuesta Mundial Gallup," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0152, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
  4. Strulik, Holger, 2013. "How status concerns can make us rich and happy," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 170, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
  5. Beja Jr, Edsel, 2013. "Does economic prosperity bring about a happier society? Mathematical remarks on the Easterlin Paradox debate," MPRA Paper 48229, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Beja Jr., Edsel, 2013. "Does economic prosperity bring about a happier society? Empirical remarks on the Easterlin Paradox debate sans Happiness Adaptation," MPRA Paper 50633, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Beja Jr., Edsel, 2013. "Does economic prosperity bring about a happier society? Empirical remarks on the Easterlin Paradox debate," MPRA Paper 49446, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Lant Pritchett, Charles Kenny, 2013. "Promoting Millennium Development Ideals: The Risks of Defining Development Down-Working Paper 338," Working Papers 338, Center for Global Development.
  9. Pritchett, Lant & Kenny, Charles, 2013. "Promoting Millennium Development Ideals: The Risks of Defining Development Down," Working Paper Series rwp13-033, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  10. Dorsett, Richard & Oswald, Andrew J., 2014. "Human well-being and in-work benefits: A randomized controlled trial," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 182, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  11. Tamas Hajdu & Gabor Hajdu, 2013. "Are more equal societies happier? Subjective well-being, income inequality, and redistribution," IEHAS Discussion Papers 1320, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

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