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The Easterlin illusion: economic growth does go with greater happiness

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  • Veenhoven, Ruut
  • Vergunst, Floris

Abstract

The 'Easterlin Paradox' holds that economic growth in nations does not buy greater happiness for the average citizen. This thesis was advanced in the 1970s on the basis of the then available data on happiness in nations. Later data have disproved most of the empirical claims behind the thesis, but Easterlin still maintains that there is no long-term correlation between economic growth and happiness. This last claim was tested using the time trend data available in the World Database of Happiness, which involve 1531 data points in 67 nations that yield 199 time-series ranging from 10 to more than 40 years. The analysis reveals a positive correlation between GDP growth and rise of in happiness in nations. Both GDP and happiness have gone up in most nations, and average happiness has risen more in nations where the economy has grown the most; r =+0.21 p

Suggested Citation

  • Veenhoven, Ruut & Vergunst, Floris, 2013. "The Easterlin illusion: economic growth does go with greater happiness," MPRA Paper 43983, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:43983
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    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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).
    4. 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.
    5. Richard Easterlin, 2005. "Feeding the Illusion of Growth and Happiness: A Reply to Hagerty and Veenhoven," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 74(3), pages 429-443, December.
    6. Easterlin, Richard A. & Angelescu McVey, Laura, 2009. "Happiness and Growth the World Over: Time Series Evidence on the Happiness-Income Paradox," IZA Discussion Papers 4060, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Van Praag, Bernard M. S. & Kapteyn, Arie, 1973. "Further evidence on the individual welfare function of income: An empirical investigatiion in The Netherlands," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 33-62, April.
    8. Phelps, Charlotte D., 2001. "A clue to the paradox of happiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 293-300, July.
    9. Ruut Veenhoven, 2005. "Apparent Quality-of-Life in Nations: How Long and Happy People Live," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 71(1), pages 61-86, March.
    10. Christian Bjørnskov & Nabanita Gupta & Peder Pedersen, 2008. "Analysing trends in subjective well-being in 15 European countries, 1973–2002," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 317-330, June.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Happiness vs options
      by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2013-02-27 19:18:59
    2. Random thoughts on happiness: how to be happy?
      by noname in ZeeConomics on 2015-07-22 13:16:39

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:zag:zirebs:v:20:y:2017:i:2:p:21-32 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Tapas MISHRA & Mamata PARHI & Claude DIEBOLT, 2014. "Evolutionary efficiency and distributive effects of inertia in cross-country life-satisfaction," Economies et Sociétés (Serie 'Histoire Economique Quantitative'), Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), issue 49, pages 1335-1356, Août.
    3. Stefano Bartolini & Małgorzata Mikucka & Francesco Sarracino, 2017. "Money, Trust and Happiness in Transition Countries: Evidence from Time Series," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 130(1), pages 87-106, January.
    4. Rok Spruk & Aleskandar Kešeljević, 2016. "Institutional Origins of Subjective Well-Being: Estimating the Effects of Economic Freedom on National Happiness," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 17(2), pages 659-712, April.
    5. repec:aes:amfeco:v:46:y:2017:i:19:p:822 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Louis Tay & David Chan & Ed Diener, 2014. "The Metrics of Societal Happiness," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 117(2), pages 577-600, June.
    7. repec:spr:ariqol:v:13:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s11482-017-9543-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Bartolini, Stefano & Sarracino, Francesco, 2015. "The Dark Side of Chinese Growth: Declining Social Capital and Well-Being in Times of Economic Boom," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 333-351.
    9. Powdthavee, Nattavudh & Stutzer, Alois, 2014. "Economic Approaches to Understanding Change in Happiness," IZA Discussion Papers 8131, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Bartolini, Stefano & Sarracino, Francesco, 2014. "The dark side of Chinese growth: Explaining decreasing well-being in times of economic boom," MPRA Paper 57765, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Mikucka, Malgorzata & Sarracino, Francesco, 2014. "Making economic growth and well-being compatible: the role of trust and income inequality," MPRA Paper 59695, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. repec:spr:soinre:v:132:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1327-0 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    happiness; economic growth; Easterlin Paradox; trend analysis;

    JEL classification:

    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • A10 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - General
    • H00 - Public Economics - - General - - - General

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