IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/pra/mprapa/41209.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

How are Income and Non-Income Factors Different in Promoting Happiness? An Answer to the Easterlin Paradox

Author

Listed:
  • Tian, Guoqiang
  • Yang, Liyan

Abstract

This paper develops a formal economic theory to explain the Easterlin paradox-average happiness levels do not necessarily increase as countries grow wealthier. The theory analyzes the different roles of income and non-income factors in promoting people's happiness, and provides a foundation for studying happiness from the perspectives of social welfare maximization and individuals' self-interested rationality. It is shown that, for a certain class of economies, whether Easterlin paradox appears depends on the level of non-income factors. Happiness rises with income only up to a critical point that is determined by the level of the non-income factors; but once the critical income level is achieved, raising income further will lead to Pareto ineffcient allocations and decrease people's happiness. One policy implication is that government should promote a balanced growth between income and non-income factors. The empirical analysis provides some preliminary evidence consistent with the theory's predictions.

Suggested Citation

  • Tian, Guoqiang & Yang, Liyan, 2005. "How are Income and Non-Income Factors Different in Promoting Happiness? An Answer to the Easterlin Paradox," MPRA Paper 41209, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Mar 2010.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:41209
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/41209/1/MPRA_paper_41209.pdf
    File Function: original version
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Frank, Robert H, 1985. "The Demand for Unobservable and Other Nonpositional Goods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 101-116, March.
    2. 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.
    3. Cooper, Ben & Garcia-Penalosa, Cecilia & Funk, Peter, 2001. "Status Effects and Negative Utility Growth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 642-665, July.
    4. John Y. Campbell & John H. Cochrane, 1994. "By Force of Habit: A Consumption-Based Explanation of Aggregate Stock Market Behavior," CRSP working papers 412, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
    5. F J Anscombe & R J Aumann, 2000. "A Definition of Subjective Probability," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7591, David K. Levine.
    6. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-484, July.
    7. Yew-Kwang Ng, 2003. "From preference to happiness: Towards a more complete welfare economics," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 20(2), pages 307-350, March.
    8. Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2006. "Some Uses of Happiness Data in Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 25-46, Winter.
    9. 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.
    10. Vostroknutov, Alexander, 2007. "Preferences over Consumption and Status," MPRA Paper 2594, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Jun 2007.
    11. Siang Ng & Yew-Kwang Ng, 2001. "Welfare-reducing growth despite individual and government optimization," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 18(3), pages 497-506.
    12. Ng, Yew-Kwang & Wang, Jianguo, 1993. "Relative income, aspiration, environmental quality, individual and political myopia : Why may the rat-race for material growth be welfare-reducing?," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 3-23, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Easterlin Paradox; Happiness; Social Comparison; Pareto Optimality;

    JEL classification:

    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:41209. 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: (Joachim Winter). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/vfmunde.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.