Social Indicators Research

, Volume 74, Issue 3, pp 429–443 | Cite as

Feeding the Illusion of Growth and Happiness: A Reply to Hagerty and Veenhoven

Article

Abstract

In a rebuttal of Easterlin (1995), Hagerty and Veenhoven (2003) analyze data for 21 countries and conclude that “growing national income does go with greater happiness.” But the U.S. experience does not support this conclusion, which they obtain only by mixing together two sets of noncomparable surverys. Moreover, the result of studies of European countries and the U.S. by other scholars do not support their claim either. Furthermore, the experience of 6 out of 7 of their non-European countries fail to support their claim. Finally, if countries in their analysis with quite similar growth rates are grouped, one finds quite disparate trends in happiness, suggesting that factors other than growth in income are responsible for the differential trends in happiness. Instead of straining to feed the illusion that a focus on economic growth will create happiness, an approach is needed that explores the impact on national trends in life satisfaction, not just of material goods, but also of family life, health, work utility, and the like.

Key words

happiness economic growth time series 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Blanchflower, D.G., Oswald, A.J. 2004‘Well-being over time in Britain and the USA’Journal of Public Economics8813591386CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Christoph, B., Noll, H.-H. 2003‘Subjective well-being in the European Union during the 90s’Social Indicators Research64521546CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Davis, J.A., Smith, T.W. 2002General Social Surveys, 1972–2002 [machine-readable data file]National Opinion Research CenterChicagoGoogle Scholar
  4. Diener, E., Oishi, S. 2000

    ‘Money and happiness: Income and Subjective well-being across nations’

    Diener, E.Suh, E.M eds. Culture and Subjective Well-being .The MIT PressCambridge, MA185218
    Google Scholar
  5. Easterlin, R.A. 1974

    ‘Does economic growth improve the human lot?’

    David, P.A.Reder, M.W. eds. Nations and Households in Economic Growth: Essays in Honor of Moses Abramovitz.Academic Press IncNew York
    Google Scholar
  6. Easterlin, R.A. 1995‘Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all?’Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization273548(June)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Easterlin R. A.: 2003, ‘Explaining happiness,’ Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 100(19), (September 16) pp. 11176–11183. A substantially expanded version is forthcoming under the title ‘Building a better theory of well-being’ in L.Bruni and P. Porta (eds.), Economics and Happiness: Reality and Paradoxes (Oxford, Eng.: Oxford University Press)Google Scholar
  8. Easterlin, R.A. 2005‘Diminishing marginal utility of income? caveat emptor’Social Indicators Research70243255CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Griffiths, G. 2003‘Letter from Bruni to Thomas Cambiatore’Journal of European Economic History32352359(Fall)Google Scholar
  10. Hagerty, M.R., Veenhoven, R. 2003‘Wealth and happiness revisited – growing national income does go with greater happiness’Social Indicators Research64127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hellevik, O. 2003‘Economy, values and happiness in Norway’Journal of Happiness Studies4243283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hirata, J. 2003Happiness and Economics: Some Ethical ConsiderationsInstitute for Business Ethics, University of St. GallenSt. Gallen, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar
  13. Inglehart, R., Klingemann, H.-D. 2000

    ‘Genes, culture, democracy, and happiness’

    Diener, E.Suh, E.M eds. Culture and Subjective Well-being.The MIT PressCambridge, MA165183
    Google Scholar
  14. Inglehart, R., Rabier, J.-R. 1986

    ‘Aspirations adapt to situations – but why are the Belgians so much happier than the French?’

    Andrews, F.M eds. Research on the Quality of Life.Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research, University of MichiganAnn Arbor, MI156
    Google Scholar
  15. Kenny, C. 1999‘Does growth cause happiness, or does happiness cause growth?’Kyklos52326Google Scholar
  16. Maddison, A. 2001The World Economy: A Millennial PerspectiveDevelopment Centre of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and DevelopmentParis, FranceGoogle Scholar
  17. Møller, V. 2001‘Happiness trends under democracy: Where will the new South African set-level come to rest?’Journal of Happiness Studies23353CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Møller, V., Dickow, H. 2002‘The role of quality of life surveys in managing change in democratic transitions: The South African case’Social Indicators Research58267292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Schyns P. (2003). Income and Life Satisfaction: A Cross-National and Longitudinal Study. Delft (Netherlands: Eburon)Google Scholar
  20. Smith, T.W. 1979‘Happiness: Time trends, seasonal variations, intersurvey differences, and other mysteries’Social Psychology Quarterly421830Google Scholar
  21. US Bureau of the Census.2003Statistical Abstract of the United States 2003Government Printing OfficeWashington, DCGoogle Scholar
  22. Veenhoven, R. 1991‘Is happiness relative?’Social Indicators Research24134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Veenhoven, R. 1993Happiness in Nations, Subjective Appreciation of Life in 56 Nations 1946–1992Erasmus UniversityRotterdamGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Letters, Arts, and SciencesUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations