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Happiness and Economic Growth: The Evidence

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  • Easterlin, Richard A.

    () (University of Southern California)

Abstract

Long term trends in happiness and income are not related; short term fluctuations in happiness and income are positively associated. Evidence for this is found in time series data for developed countries, transition countries, and less developed countries, whether analyzed separately or pooled. Skeptics, who claim that the long term time series trend relationship is positive, are mistaking the short term association for the long term one, or are misguided by a statistical artifact. Some analysts assert that in less developed countries happiness and economic growth are positively related "up to some point," beyond which the association tends to become nil, but time series data do not support this view. The most striking contradiction is China where, despite a fourfold multiplication in two decades in real GDP per capita from a low initial level, life satisfaction has not improved.

Suggested Citation

  • Easterlin, Richard A., 2013. "Happiness and Economic Growth: The Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 7187, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7187
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    Cited by:

    1. Stacey A. Rich & Sharon Hanna & Bradley J. Wright, 2017. "Simply Satisfied: The Role of Psychological Need Satisfaction in the Life Satisfaction of Voluntary Simplifiers," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 18(1), pages 89-105, February.
    2. Milena Nikolova & Boris Nikolaev, 2017. "Does Joining the EU Make You Happy? Evidence from Bulgaria and Romania," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 18(6), pages 1593-1623, December.
    3. FitzRoy, Felix & Nolan, Michael A., 2017. "Education, Income and Happiness: Panel Evidence for the UK," IZA Discussion Papers 11185, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Okulicz-Kozaryn Adam, 2015. "When Place is Too Big: Happy Town and Unhappy Metropolis," ERSA conference papers ersa15p148, European Regional Science Association.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    happiness; life satisfaction; subjective well-being; income; long term; short term; Easterlin paradox; developed countries; transition countries; less developed countries; China;

    JEL classification:

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

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