The unhappy thing about happiness economics

Abstract

Time series data show that nations do not get happier over time as they get richer. In contrast, happiness is positively correlated with individual income within a given country at any point in time; the rich generally report greater happiness than the poor. This, the socalled Easterlin paradox, named after the doyen of happiness studies, Richard Easterlin, is also discussed at length in the happiness literature. An implication which is widely drawn is that if we do not get happier as we get richer, this effect must be due to the pernicious psychological effects of inequality.

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