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A conversation with Richard Easterlin


After an introduction touching on various biographical highlights, this paper summarizes a wide-ranging discussion with Richard Easterlin which occurred in the Autumn of 1996. We considered the Easterlin Hypothesis – its genesis and current status, together with Easterlin‘s views on attempts to develop measures of relative income – and then moved on to “The Fertility Revolution” and questions regarding the applicability of the theory of household choice in modernizing societies. This was followed by a discussion of his early career development and influences on him at that time, ending with ruminations regarding the current state of economics, and the validity of training given to young economists today.

JEL classification: J10, J11, J13

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Received February 13, 1997 / Accepted February 26, 1997

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Macunovich, D. A conversation with Richard Easterlin. J Popul Econ 10, 119–136 (1997).

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  • Key words: Easterlin
  • relative income
  • demographic transition
  • fertility
  • mortality
  • baby boom
  • demographic cycles