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Happiness and the Human Development Index: The Paradox of Australia

Author

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  • Blanchflower, David G.

    () (Dartmouth College)

  • Oswald, Andrew J.

    () (University of Warwick)

Abstract

According to the well-being measure known as the U.N. Human Development Index, Australia now ranks 3rd in the world and higher than all other English-speaking nations. This paper questions that assessment. It reviews work on the economics of happiness, considers implications for policymakers, and explores where Australia lies in international subjective well-being rankings. Using new data on approximately 50,000 randomly sampled individuals from 35 nations, the paper shows that Australians have some of the lowest levels of job satisfaction in the world. Moreover, among the sub-sample of English-speaking nations, where a common language should help subjective measures to be reliable, Australia performs poorly on a range of happiness indicators. The paper discusses this paradox. Our purpose is not to reject HDI methods, but rather to argue that much remains to be understood in this area.

Suggested Citation

  • Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2005. "Happiness and the Human Development Index: The Paradox of Australia," IZA Discussion Papers 1601, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1601
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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.
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    9. Oswald, Andrew J, 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1815-1831, November.
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    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Gatina, Liliya, 2016. "Does money buy happiness? Financial and general well-being of immigrants in Australia," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 91-105.
    2. Christian Schubert, 2012. "Pursuing Happiness," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(2), pages 245-261, May.
    3. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2009. "Should National Happiness be Maximized?," Chapters,in: Happiness, Economics and Politics, chapter 14 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Clark, Andrew E. & Senik, Claudia, 2010. "Will GDP Growth Increase Happiness in Developing Countries?," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Docweb) 1024, CEPREMAP.
    5. Christopher Ambrey & Christopher Fleming, 2014. "Life Satisfaction in Australia: Evidence from Ten Years of the HILDA Survey," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 115(2), pages 691-714, January.
    6. David G. Blanchflower, 2009. "International Evidence on Well-Being," NBER Chapters,in: Measuring the Subjective Well-Being of Nations: National Accounts of Time Use and Well-Being, pages 155-226 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Dolan, Paul & Peasgood, Tessa & White, Mathew, 2008. "Do we really know what makes us happy A review of the economic literature on the factors associated with subjective well-being," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 94-122, February.
    8. Frank Arku & Glen Filson & James Shute, 2008. "An Empirical Approach to the Study of Well-being Among Rural Men and Women in Ghana," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 88(2), pages 365-387, September.
    9. repec:spr:ariqol:v:12:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s11482-016-9500-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Bruno Frey, 2011. "Tullock challenges: happiness, revolutions, and democracy," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 148(3), pages 269-281, September.
    11. 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.
    12. Molnár, György & Kapitány, Zsuzsa, 2007. "Bizonytalanság és a jövedelmek újraelosztása iránti igény Magyarországon
      [Uncertainty and the demand for redistribution in Hungary]
      ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(3), pages 201-232.
    13. Yeniaras, Volkan & Akkemik, K. Ali & Yucel, Eray, 2016. "Re-considering the linkage between the antecedents and consequences of happiness," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 176-191.
    14. Quang Tran, Tuyen & Quy Nguyen, Thanh & Vu Van, Huong & Thanh Doan, Tinh, 2015. "Religiosity and life satisfaction among old people: Evidence from a transitional country," MPRA Paper 81360, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 10 Jun 2015.
    15. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2006. "Should We Maximize National Happiness?," IEW - Working Papers 306, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    16. Álvarez De Toledo Saavedra, Pablo & Núñez Hernández, Fernando & Usabiaga Ibáñez, Carlos, 2006. "El Diferencial de Desempleo Andaluz: Análisis SVAR de la Curva de Beveridge/Andalusian Unemployment Differential: SVAR Analysis of the Beveridge Curve," Estudios de Economía Aplicada, Estudios de Economía Aplicada, vol. 24, pages 1061-1090, Diciembre.
    17. Bruno Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2010. "Happiness and public choice," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 144(3), pages 557-573, September.
    18. David G. Blanchflower, 2007. "Is Unemployment More Costly Than Inflation?," NBER Working Papers 13505, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Ingebjørg Kristoffersen, 2017. "The Metrics of Subjective Wellbeing Data: An Empirical Evaluation of the Ordinal and Cardinal Comparability of Life Satisfaction Scores," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 130(2), pages 845-865, January.
    20. David Bell & David G. Blanchflower, 2007. "The Scots May Be Brave But They Are Neither Healthy Nor Happy," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 54(2), pages 166-194, May.
    21. DavidG. Blanchflower & Chris Shadforth, 2009. "Fear, Unemployment and Migration," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(535), pages 136-182, February.
    22. Luigino Bruni & Giovanni Ferri, 2015. "oes Cooperativeness Promote Happiness? Cross-country Evidence," Mo.Fi.R. Working Papers 107, Money and Finance Research group (Mo.Fi.R.) - Univ. Politecnica Marche - Dept. Economic and Social Sciences.
    23. Andrew E. Clark & Claudia Senik, 2010. "Will GDP growth increase happiness in developing countries?," Working Papers halshs-00564985, HAL.
    24. repec:eco:journ1:2017-05-51 is not listed on IDEAS
    25. Aviral Kumar Tiwari, 2011. "Happiness and Environmental Degradation: What Determines Happiness?," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 31(4), pages 3192-3210.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    HDI; happiness; well-being; macroeconomics;

    JEL classification:

    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook

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