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The paradox of happiness: towards an alternative explanation

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  • Stavros Drakopoulos

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Abstract

ABSTRACT There is a common empirical finding in many countries that substantial increases in real per capita income do not correspond to equivalent increases of individual happiness. These findings have puzzled many economists that some have called the “paradox of happiness”. There have been a number of explanations regarding this paradox. This paper attempts to tackle the paradox of happiness by employing the idea of hierarchical choice. The hierarchical approach implies that there are some basic human needs which must be satisfied before non-basic needs come into the picture. The paper argues that the hierarchical structure of needs implies that the satisfaction of basic needs provides substantial increases to individual happiness compared to the subsequent satisfaction of secondary needs. This might also be an alternative explanation of empirical findings showing a positive relationship between income and happiness up to certain level of income.
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Suggested Citation

  • Stavros Drakopoulos, 2008. "The paradox of happiness: towards an alternative explanation," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 303-315, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jhappi:v:9:y:2008:i:2:p:303-315
    DOI: 10.1007/s10902-007-9054-5
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    Cited by:

    1. Vinod Sharma & Jayant Sonwalkar, 2013. "Does Consumer Buying Behavior Change During Economic Crisis?," International Journal of Economics & Business Administration (IJEBA), International Journal of Economics & Business Administration (IJEBA), vol. 0(2), pages 33-48.
    2. Drakopoulos, Stavros A. & Grimani, Katerina, 2013. "Maslow’s Needs Hierarchy and the Effect of Income on Happiness Levels," MPRA Paper 50987, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Drakopoulos, Stavros A., 2008. "The Concept Of Comparison Income: An Historical Perspective," MPRA Paper 8713, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Gómez-Miñambres, Joaquín, 2012. "Motivation through goal setting," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 1223-1239.
    5. Richard Barnett & Joydeep Bhattacharya & Helle Bunzel, 2010. "Choosing to keep up with the Joneses and income inequality," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 45(3), pages 469-496, December.
    6. Kit-Chun Lam & Pak-Wai Liu, 2014. "Socio-Economic Inequalities in Happiness in China and U.S," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 116(2), pages 509-533, April.
    7. Laura Camfield & Monica Guillen-Royo & Jackeline Velazco, 2010. "Does Needs Satisfaction Matter for Psychological and Subjective Wellbeing in Developing Countries: A Mixed-Methods Illustration from Bangladesh and Thailand," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 497-516, August.
    8. Grimani, Katerina, 2014. "Labor earnings and Psychological well-being: An Empirical Analysis," MPRA Paper 57098, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Petur O. Jonsson, 2011. "On utilitarianism vs virtue ethics as foundations of economic choice theory," Humanomics: The International Journal of Systems and Ethics, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 27(1), pages 24-40, February.
    10. Barbara Dluhosch & Daniel Horgos & Klaus Zimmermann, 2014. "Social Choice and Social Unemployment-Income Cleavages: New Insights from Happiness Research," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 15(6), pages 1513-1537, December.
    11. Drakopoulos, Stavros A., 2010. "The history of the mainstream rejection of interdependent preferences," MPRA Paper 23980, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Happiness paradox; Human needs; Hierarchy; I31;

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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