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Uncounted or illusory blessings? Competing responses to the Easterlin, Easterbrook and Schwartz paradoxes of well-being


  • Des Gasper

    (Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, Netherlands)


The Easterlin paradox concerns slight or negligible increases in personal satisfaction reported as income rises beyond high middle income levels. Sister paradoxes highlighted by Easterbrook and Schwartz concern the frequent low or negligible impact on personal satisfaction of improvements in various dimensions of life. The paper identifies a range of responses to the paradoxes, shows how these responses reflect a series of different conceptions of the meaning of well-being, and assesses their cogency. It indicates areas where follow-on research is required. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Des Gasper, 2007. "Uncounted or illusory blessings? Competing responses to the Easterlin, Easterbrook and Schwartz paradoxes of well-being," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(4), pages 473-492.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jintdv:v:19:y:2007:i:4:p:473-492 DOI: 10.1002/jid.1383

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-659, May.
    2. Frank, Robert H, 1997. "The Frame of Reference as a Public Good," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1832-1847, November.
    3. Gasper, D.R., 2006. "What is the capability approach?: its core, rationale, partners and dangers," ISS Working Papers - General Series 19187, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague.
    4. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-484, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gasper, Des, 2010. "Understanding the diversity of conceptions of well-being and quality of life," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 351-360, June.
    2. Gasper, D.R., 2009. "Capitalism and human flourishing?," ISS Working Papers - General Series 18724, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague.

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