Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA

Contents:

Author Info

  • David G. Blanchflower
  • Andrew J. Oswald

Abstract

The standard of living in the industrialized nations has been steadily increasing over the last few decades. Yet some observers wonder whether we are really getting any happier. This paper addresses that question by examining well-being data on 100,000 randomly sampled Americans and Britons from the early 1970s to the late 1990s. Reported levels of happiness have declined over the period in the United States. Life satisfaction has been approximately flat through time in Great Britain. Counter to the general US trend, the happiness of blacks in that nation has risen since the early 1970s. The black-white happiness differential has diminished. The happiness of American men has grown. Despite legislation aimed to reduce gender discrimination, the well-being of women has fallen noticeably. Well-being equations have a stable structure: the British equations look almost identical to the US ones. Money does buy happiness. The paper also calculates the dollar values of life events like unemployment and divorce. They are large. A lasting marriage, for example, is calculated to be worth $100,000 a year.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w7487.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7487.

as in new window
Length:
Date of creation: Jan 2000
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Blanchflower, David G. and Andrew J. Oswald. "Well-Being Over Time In Britain And The USA," Journal of Public Economics, 2004, v88(7-8,Jul), 1359-1386.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7487

Note: LS
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Email:
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords:

Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Robert J. MacCulloch & Rafael Di Tella & Andrew J. Oswald, 2001. "Preferences over Inflation and Unemployment: Evidence from Surveys of Happiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 335-341, March.
  2. Frank Andrews, 1991. "Stability and change in levels and structure of subjective well-being: USA 1972 and 1988," Social Indicators Research, Springer, Springer, vol. 25(1), pages 1-30, August.
  3. Layard, Richard, 1980. "Human Satisfactions and Public Policy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(363), pages 737-50, December.
  4. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1994. "Satisfaction and comparison income," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9408, CEPREMAP.
  5. Frey, Bruno S & Stutzer, Alois, 2000. "Happiness, Economy and Institutions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(466), pages 918-38, October.
  6. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 1999. "Measuring Preferences by Subjective Well-Being," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 155(4), pages 755-778, December.
  7. Randolph Mullis, 1992. "Measures of economic well-being as predictors of psychological well-being," Social Indicators Research, Springer, Springer, vol. 26(2), pages 119-135, March.
  8. Oswald, Andrew J, 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1815-31, November.
  9. Frank, Robert H, 1997. "The Frame of Reference as a Public Good," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1832-47, November.
  10. David G. Blanchflower & Richard B. Freeman, 1994. "The Legacy of Communist Labor Relations," NBER Working Papers 4740, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Feld, Lars P. & Necker, Sarah & Frey, Bruno S., 2013. "Happiness of economists," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 13/7, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..
  12. David G. Blanchflower & Richard Freeman, 1997. "The attitudinal legacy of Communist labor relations," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 50(3), pages 438-459, April.
  13. Robin Douthitt & Maurice Macdonald & Randolph Mullis, 1992. "The relationship between measures of subjective and economic well-being: A new look," Social Indicators Research, Springer, Springer, vol. 26(4), pages 407-422, June.
  14. Hollander, Heinz, 2001. "On the validity of utility statements: standard theory versus Duesenberry's," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 227-249, July.
  15. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew Oswald, 2000. "The Rising Well-Being of the Young," NBER Chapters, in: Youth Employment and Joblessness in Advanced Countries, pages 289-328 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 616, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  17. Olof Johansson-Stenman & Fredrik Carlsson & Dinky Daruvala, 2002. "Measuring Future Grandparents" Preferences for Equality and Relative Standing," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(479), pages 362-383, April.
  18. Konow, James & Earley, Joseph, 2007. "The Hedonistic Paradox: Is Homo Economicus Happier?," MPRA Paper 2728, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  19. Di Tella, R. & MacCulloch, R.J.: Oswald, A.J., 1997. "The Macroeconomics of Happiness," Papers, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics 19, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics.
  20. Cooper, Ben & Garcia-Penalosa, Cecilia & Funk, Peter, 2001. "Status Effects and Negative Utility Growth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 642-65, July.
  21. Craig Fox & Daniel Kahneman, 1992. "Correlations, causes and heuristics in surveys of life satisfaction," Social Indicators Research, Springer, Springer, vol. 27(3), pages 221-234, November.
  22. Frey, Bruno S & Schneider, Friedrich, 1978. "An Empirical Study of Politico-Economic Interaction in the United States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 60(2), pages 174-83, May.
  23. Morawetz, David, 1977. "Income Distribution and Self-Rated Happiness: Some Empirical Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 87(347), pages 511-22, September.
  24. Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1997. "A Case for Happiness, Cardinalism, and Interpersonal Comparability," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1848-58, November.
  25. Blanchflower, David G & Oswald, Andrew J, 1998. "What Makes an Entrepreneur?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 26-60, January.
  26. Van Praag, Bernard M. S. & Kapteyn, Arie, 1973. "Further evidence on the individual welfare function of income: An empirical investigatiion in The Netherlands," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 33-62, April.
  27. Kahneman, Daniel & Wakker, Peter P & Sarin, Rakesh, 1997. "Back to Bentham? Explorations of Experienced Utility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 375-405, May.
  28. Winkelmann, Liliana & Winkelmann, Rainer, 1998. "Why Are the Unemployed So Unhappy? Evidence from Panel Data," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 65(257), pages 1-15, February.
  29. Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2005. "Partisan Social Happiness," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(2), pages 367-393.
  30. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-84, July.
  31. Ravallion, Martin & Lokshin, Michael, 2001. "Identifying Welfare Effects from Subjective Questions," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 68(271), pages 335-57, August.
  32. Easterlin, Richard A., 1995. "Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 35-47, June.
  33. McBride, Michael, 2001. "Relative-income effects on subjective well-being in the cross-section," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 251-278, July.
  34. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1998. "Comparison-concave utility and following behaviour in social and economic settings," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 133-155, October.
  35. Doh Shin, 1980. "Does rapid economic growth improve the human lot? Some empirical evidence," Social Indicators Research, Springer, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 199-221, June.
  36. Carol Graham & Stefano Pettinato, 2001. "Happiness, Markets, and Democracy: Latin America in Comparative Perspective," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, Springer, vol. 2(3), pages 237-268, September.
  37. Ruut Veenhoven, 1991. "Is happiness relative?," Social Indicators Research, Springer, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 1-34, February.
  38. Yew-Kwang Ng, 1996. "Happiness surveys: Some comparability issues and an exploratory survey based on just perceivable increments," Social Indicators Research, Springer, Springer, vol. 38(1), pages 1-27, May.
  39. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-59, May.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. The pretence of knowledge
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2010-09-10 12:40:40
  2. Money, reputation and happiness
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2009-03-05 17:27:55
Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7487. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.