Chapter

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199732739.003.0009
The Easterlin and Other Paradoxes: Why Both Sides of the Debate May Be Correct

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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

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