The Easterlin and Other Paradoxes: Why Both Sides of the Debate May Be Correct

Carol Graham, Soumya Chattopadhyay and Mario Picon

in International Differences in Well-Being

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780199732739
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199776887 | DOI:
The Easterlin and Other Paradoxes: Why Both Sides of the Debate May Be Correct

Show Summary Details


Research on the economics of happiness has raised a new debate on the relationship between happiness and income. Easterlin’s original work highlighted an apparent paradox: as countries grew materially wealthier — and healthier — over time, average happiness levels did not increase. A number of studies since then confirmed the general direction of his findings. Yet some recent papers, based on new data, find a stronger relationship between average per capita income and happiness levels, and question whether the paradox exists at all. This chapter shows how the steepness of the slope in the income-happiness relationship depends to a large extent on the particular question that is used; on the sample of countries and time frame selected; on the specification of the income variable; and on the rate of economic growth in addition to income levels. This chapter also highlights three related phenomena: the paradox of unhappy growth; happy peasants and frustrated achievers; and the paradox of low aspirations.

Keywords: happiness; income; Easterlin Paradox; international; national

Chapter.  14669 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Psychology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.