Money Doesn't Buy Happiness … or Does It? A Reconsideration Based on the Combined Effects of Wealth, Income and Consumption
The accepted view among psychologists and economists alike is that economic well-being has a statistically significant but only weak effect on happiness/subjective well-being (SWB). This view is based almost entirely on weak relationships between household income and SWB. But income is clearly an imperfect measure of economic well-being. Also needed are measures of wealth (net worth) and consumption. Wealth provides economic security as well as income, and consumption expenditure is the most valid measure of current living standards. The paper uses household economic panel data from five countries - Australia, Britain, Germany, Hungary and the Netherlands - to provide a reconsideration of the impact of economic well-being on happiness. The main conclusion is that happiness is considerably more affected by economic circumstances than previously believed. In all five countries wealth affects life satisfaction more than income. In the countries for which consumption data are available (Britain and Hungary), non-durable consumption expenditures also prove at least as important to happiness as income. In the latter part of the paper, we undertake longitudinal analyses of the effects of changes in economic well-being on changes in satisfaction levels. The aim is to reassess psychological adaptation theory, which has been invoked to explain very weak and even non-significant relationships between change measures. Results from panel regression fixed effects models indicate that changes in wealth, income and consumption all produce significant, though not large, changes in satisfaction levels.
|Date of creation:||Jul 2004|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010 Australia|
Phone: +61 3 8344 2100
Fax: +61 3 8344 2111
Web page: http://www.melbourneinstitute.com/
More information through EDIRC
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.:
- Oswald, Andrew J, 1997.
"Happiness and Economic Performance,"
Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1815-31, November.
- Oswald, Andrew, 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 478, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
- Oswald, A.J., 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," Papers 18, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics.
- Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2002.
"What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?,"
Journal of Economic Literature,
American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 402-435, June.
- 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.
- Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2001. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," CESifo Working Paper Series 503, CESifo Group Munich.
- Van Praag, B.M.S., 1989. "The Relativity of the Welfare Concept," Research Paper 69, World Institute for Development Economics Research.
- Kapteyn, A.J. & Kooreman, P. & Willemse, R., 1987.
"Some methodological issues in the implementation of subjective poverty definitions,"
FEW 245, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
- Arie Kapteyn & Peter Kooreman & Rob Willemse, 1988. "Some Methodological Issues in the Implementation of Subjective Poverty Definitions," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 23(2), pages 222-242.
- Juster, F. Thomas & Smith, James P. & Stafford, Frank, 1999.
"The measurement and structure of household wealth,"
Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 253-275, June.
- Coulter, Fiona A E & Cowell, Frank A & Jenkins, Stephen P, 1992. "Equivalence Scale Relativities and the Extent of Inequality and Poverty," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 102(414), pages 1067-82, September.
- Barrett, Garry F & Crossley, Thomas F & Worswick, Christopher, 2000.
"Consumption and Income Inequality in Australia,"
The Economic Record,
The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 76(233), pages 116-38, June.
- Paul Frijters & John P. Haisken-DeNew & Michael A. Shields, 2004. "Money Does Matter! Evidence from Increasing Real Income and Life Satisfaction in East Germany Following Reunification," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 730-740, June.
- Daniel T. Slesnick, 1998. "Empirical Approaches to the Measurement of Welfare," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(4), pages 2108-2165, December.
- Martin Browning & Thomas F. Crossley & Guglielmo Weber, 2003.
"Asking consumption questions in general purpose surveys,"
Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(491), pages F540-F567, November.
- Martin Browning & Thomas F. Crossley & Guglielmo Weber, 2002. "Asking Consumption Questions in General Purpose Surveys," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 77, McMaster University.
- Martin Browning & Thomas F. Crossley & Gugliemo Weber, 2002. "Asking Consumption Questions in General Purpose Surveys," CAM Working Papers 2002-05, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Applied Microeconometrics.
- 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.
- van Praag, Bernard M S & Hagenaars, Aldi J M & van Weeren, Hans, 1982. "Poverty in Europe," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 28(3), pages 345-59, September.
- Boozer, Michael A., 1997. "Econometric Analysis of Panel Data Badi H. Baltagi Wiley, 1995," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(05), pages 747-754, October.
- 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.
- Frank, Robert H, 1985. "The Demand for Unobservable and Other Nonpositional Goods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 101-16, March.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iae:iaewps:wp2004n15. 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: (Abbey Treloar)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.