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Is There an "Iron Law of Happiness"?

  • Richard A. Easterlin
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    Contrary to the setpoint model of some psychologists, individual happiness does not tend to fluctuate around a constant level. Although the personality and genetic factors emphasized by setpoint theorists are important in explaining individual differences in happiness at a point in time, survey evidence demonstrates that over the life cycle economic circumstances, family life, health, and work are important in determining the course of happiness. However, life events do not necessarily dominate life cycle satisfaction in different domains, and economic theories of well-being would benefit from following psychologists’ lead by incorporating goals and adaptation.

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    Paper provided by Institute of Economic Policy Research (IEPR) in its series IEPR Working Papers with number 05.8.

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    Length: 33 pages
    Date of creation: Jan 2005
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:scp:wpaper:05-8
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    Web page: http://www.usc.edu/dept/LAS/economics/IEPR/

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