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The Happiness-Income Paradox Revisited

Author

Listed:
  • Easterlin, Richard A.

    () (University of Southern California)

  • Angelescu McVey, Laura

    () (University of Southern California)

  • Switek, Malgorzata

    () (University of Southern California)

  • Sawangfa, Onnicha

    () (University of Southern California)

  • Zweig, Jacqueline Smith

    (University of Southern California)

Abstract

The striking thing about the happiness-income paradox is that over the long-term – usually a period of 10 y or more – happiness does not increase as a country's income rises. Heretofore the evidence for this was limited to developed countries. This article presents evidence that the long term nil relationship between happiness and income holds also for a number of developing countries, the eastern European countries transitioning from socialism to capitalism, and an even wider sample of developed countries than previously studied. It also finds that in the short-term in all three groups of countries, happiness and income go together, i.e., happiness tends to fall in economic contractions and rise in expansions. Recent critiques of the paradox, claiming the time series relationship between happiness and income is positive, are the result either of a statistical artifact or a confusion of the short-term relationship with the long-term one.

Suggested Citation

  • Easterlin, Richard A. & Angelescu McVey, Laura & Switek, Malgorzata & Sawangfa, Onnicha & Zweig, Jacqueline Smith, 2011. "The Happiness-Income Paradox Revisited," IZA Discussion Papers 5799, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5799
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Sergei Guriev & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2009. "(Un)happiness in Transition," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(2), pages 143-168, Spring.
    2. Angus Deaton, 2008. "Income, Health, and Well-Being around the World: Evidence from the Gallup World Poll," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(2), pages 53-72, Spring.
    3. Robert J. MacCulloch & Rafael Di Tella & Andrew J. Oswald, 2001. "Preferences over Inflation and Unemployment: Evidence from Surveys of Happiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 335-341, March.
    4. Oswald, Andrew J, 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1815-1831, November.
    5. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2008. "Economic Growth and Subjective Well-Being: Reassessing the Easterlin Paradox," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 39(1 (Spring), pages 1-102.
    6. repec:cup:apsrev:v:82:y:1988:i:04:p:1203-1230_19 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. KennethJ. Arrow & ParthaS. Dasgupta, 2009. "Conspicuous Consumption, Inconspicuous Leisure," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(541), pages 497-516, November.
    8. 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.
    9. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2008. "Relative Income, Happiness, and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(1), pages 95-144, March.
    10. Easterlin, Richard A., 2009. "Lost in transition: Life satisfaction on the road to capitalism," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 130-145, August.
    11. Michael Hagerty & Ruut Veenhoven, 2003. "Wealth and Happiness Revisited – Growing National Income Does Go with Greater Happiness," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 64(1), pages 1-27, October.
    12. 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.
    13. Richard Easterlin, 2005. "Diminishing Marginal Utility of Income? Caveat Emptor," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 70(3), pages 243-255, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Pablo Gluzmann, 2013. "Bienestar subjetivo y crecimiento económico: analizando la paradoja del crecimiento infeliz en la Encuesta Mundial Gallup," Económica, Departamento de Economía, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, vol. 59, pages 231-258, January-D.
    2. Roberson Édouard & Gérard Duhaime, 2013. "The Well-Being of the Canadian Arctic Inuit: The Relevant Weight of Economy in the Happiness Equations," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 113(1), pages 373-392, August.
    3. Ruut Veenhoven & Floris Vergunst, 2014. "The Easterlin illusion: economic growth does go with greater happiness," International Journal of Happiness and Development, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 1(4), pages 311-343.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Easterlin Paradox; life satisfaction; subjective well-being;

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O5 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General

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