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Income, Aging, Health and Well-Being around the World: Evidence from the Gallup World Poll

In: Research Findings in the Economics of Aging

Author

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  • Angus Deaton

Abstract

During 2006, the Gallup Organization conducted a World Poll that used an identical questionnaire for national samples of adults from 132 countries. I analyze the data on life satisfaction (happiness) and on health satisfaction and look at their relationships with national income, age, and life-expectancy. Average happiness is strongly related to per capita national income; each doubling of income is associated with a near one point increase in life satisfaction on a scale from 0 to 10. Unlike most previous findings, the effect holds across the range of international incomes; if anything, it is slightly stronger among rich countries. Conditional on national income, recent economic growth makes people unhappier, improvements in life-expectancy make them happier, but life-expectancy itself has little effect. Age has an internationally inconsistent relationship with happiness. National income moderates the effects of aging on self-reported health, and the decline in health satisfaction and rise in disability with age are much stronger in poor countries than in rich countries. In line with earlier findings, people in much of Eastern Europe and in the countries of the former Soviet Union are particularly unhappy and particularly dissatisfied with their health, and older people in those countries are much less satisfied with their lives and with their health than are younger people. HIV prevalence in Africa has little effect on Africans' life or health satisfaction; the fraction of Kenyans who are satisfied with their personal health is the same as the fraction of Britons and higher than the fraction of Americans. The US ranks 81st out of 115 countries in the fraction of people who have confidence in their healthcare system, and has a lower score than countries such as India, Iran, Malawi, or Sierra Leone. While the strong relationship between life-satisfaction and income gives some credence to the measures, as do the low levels of life and health satisfaction in Eastern E
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Suggested Citation

  • Angus Deaton, 2010. "Income, Aging, Health and Well-Being around the World: Evidence from the Gallup World Poll," NBER Chapters,in: Research Findings in the Economics of Aging, pages 235-263 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:8204
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2004. "Well-being over time in Britain and the USA," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1359-1386, July.
    2. Andrew Leigh & Justin Wolfers, 2006. "Happiness and the Human Development Index: Australia Is Not a Paradox," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 39(2), pages 176-184, June.
    3. Ruut Veenhoven, 1991. "Is happiness relative?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 1-34, February.
    4. Alan Williams, 2001. "Science or marketing at WHO? A commentary on 'World Health 2000'," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(2), pages 93-100.
    5. Helliwell, John F., 2003. "How's life? Combining individual and national variables to explain subjective well-being," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 331-360, March.
    6. Deaton, Angus & Paxson, Christina, 1994. "Intertemporal Choice and Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(3), pages 437-467, June.
    7. Carol Graham, 2005. "Insights on Development from the Economics of Happiness," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 20(2), pages 201-231.
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    Cited by:

    1. Levinson, Arik, 2012. "Valuing public goods using happiness data: The case of air quality," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(9-10), pages 869-880.
    2. Thomas Hansen & Britt Slagsvold, 2016. "Late-Life Loneliness in 11 European Countries: Results from the Generations and Gender Survey," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 129(1), pages 445-464, October.
    3. Eduardo Lora, 2011. "Health Perceptions in Latin America," Research Department Publications 4757, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    4. John F. Helliwell, 2008. "Life Satisfaction and Quality of Development," NBER Working Papers 14507, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Schünemann, Johannes & Strulik, Holger & Trimborn, Timo, 2017. "Going from bad to worse: Adaptation to poor health health spending, longevity, and the value of life," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 140(C), pages 130-146.
    6. Benedicte Apouey & Andrew E. Clark, 2015. "Winning Big but Feeling no Better? The Effect of Lottery Prizes on Physical and Mental Health," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(5), pages 516-538, May.
    7. Monica Raileanu Szeles, 2016. "Assessing the Effect of Economic Growth on Well-Being in the Eu-27. A Pareto-Optimum Approach," Working Papers of Institute for Economic Forecasting 161002, Institute for Economic Forecasting.
    8. Andres Felipe Hoyos Martin, 2015. "Measuring and Comparing Well-Being in South American Countries Using Equivalent Incomes," ICESI ECONOMICS WORKING PAPERS 014570, UNIVERSIDAD ICESI.
    9. Leonardo Gasparini & Walter Sosa Escudero & Mariana Marchionni & Sergio Olivieri, 2008. "Income, Deprivation, and Perceptions in Latin America and the Caribbean: New Evidence from the Gallup World Poll," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 3248, Inter-American Development Bank.
    10. Mike Pennock, 2016. "Slower Economic Growth and Subjective Well-Being in the Canadian Context: A Discussion Paper," CSLS Research Reports 2016-09, Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
    11. Bruno S. Frey & Susanne Neckermann, 2008. "Academics Appreciate Awards. A New Aspect of Incentives in Research," CREMA Working Paper Series 2008-32, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    12. Filip Fors & Joakim Kulin, 2016. "Bringing Affect Back in: Measuring and Comparing Subjective Well-Being Across Countries," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 127(1), pages 323-339, May.
    13. repec:spr:soinre:v:137:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s11205-017-1597-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2007. "Happiness, Contentment and Other Emotions for Central Banks," NBER Working Papers 13622, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Van Landeghem, Bert, 2012. "A test for the convexity of human well-being over the life cycle: Longitudinal evidence from a 20-year panel," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 571-582.
    16. Neri, Marcelo Côrtes, 2008. "A perceived human development index," FGV/EPGE Economics Working Papers (Ensaios Economicos da EPGE) 687, FGV/EPGE - Escola Brasileira de Economia e Finanças, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil).
    17. Mauricio Cárdenas Santa María & Carolina Mejía & Vincenzo Di Maro, 2008. "Education and life satisfaction: perception or reality?," WORKING PAPERS SERIES. DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 009188, FEDESARROLLO.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries

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