Argentina’s Economic Development and Life Satisfaction Revisited – 1984–2012

  • Martin TetazEmail author
  • Pablo Schiaffino
  • Miguel Braun
Part of the International Handbooks of Quality-of-Life book series (IHQL)


At the end of 1983, Argentina returned to democracy. Between 1983 and 2012, Argentina brought better economic and development results as wells as an improvement in the levels of happiness and life satisfaction. Although the macroeconomic cycle was characterized by high volatility, the country GDP per capita was 74 % higher in 2012 compared to 1983, implying an average annual growth rate of 1.9 %, much higher than the average Latin American country. Poverty and income distribution as well as health and education ones notably improved after time intervals of decadence.

On the other side, Argentineans are happier now than in 1984 with the highest improvement in Buenos Aires City. Those trends do not correlate with households’ changes in the satisfaction with their financial situation over time, but resembles the idea that satisfaction with family life and the time spent with loved ones have a higher explanatory power. Likewise, socially people who frequently go out were more satisfied with their lives. Other ‘non-classical’ results – like having sex itself – does not make any difference whatsoever, while consumption of medication for mental stress or sleeping pills has no direct impact on happiness (but stressed people report low levels of life satisfaction).


Argentina Economic Development in Argentina Argentine Economy Happiness Wellbeing in Argentina Life Satisfaction Determinants of life satisfaction Sex Pills Argentina’s democracy Easterlin paradox 


  1. Aknin, L. B., Dunn, E. W., & Norton, M. I. (2012). Happiness runs in a circular motion: Evidence for a positive feedback loop between prosocial spending and happiness. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13(2), 347–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Blanchflower, D. G., & Oswald, A. J. (2004a). Money, sex and happiness: An empirical study. The Scandinavian Journal of Economics, 106(3), 393–415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blanchflower, D. G., & Oswald, A. J. (2004b). Well-being over time in Britain and the USA. Journal of Public Economics, 88(7), 1359–1386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Boyce, C. J., Wood, A. M., & Powdthavee, N. (2013). Is personality fixed? Personality changes as much as “variable” economic factors and more strongly predicts changes to life satisfaction. Social indicators research, 111(1), 287–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Calvo, G. A. (1986). Fractured liberalism: Argentina Under Martinez de Hoz. Economic Development and Cultural Change, 34(3), 511–533.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Calvo, G. A., Izquierdo, A., & Talvi, E. (2003). Sudden stops, the real exchange rate, and fiscal sustainability: Argentina’s lessons (No. w9828). National Bureau of Economic Research.Google Scholar
  7. Cruces, G., Truglia, R. P., & Tetaz, M. (2012). Biased perceptions of income distribution and preferences for redistribution: Evidence from a survey experiment. Journal of Public Economics, 98, 100–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Easterlin, R. A. (1974). Does economic growth improve the human lot? Some empirical evidence. Nations and Households in Economic Growth, 89, 89–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Easterlin, R. A., & Plagnol, A. C. (2008). Life satisfaction and economic conditions in East and West Germany pre-and post-unification. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 68(3), 433–444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gasparini, L. (2003). Argentina’s distributional failure. Washington, DC: Inter-American Development Bank.Google Scholar
  11. Gasparini, L., & Cruces, G. (2010). Las asignaciones universales por hijo. Impacto, discusión y alternativas (Working Paper No. 0102). CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Argentina.Google Scholar
  12. Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  13. Kahneman, D., Krueger, A., Schkade, D., Schwarz, N., & Stone, A. (2003). Measuring the quality of experience (Working Paper). Princeton: Princeton University.Google Scholar
  14. Lora, E., & Chaparro, J. C. (2008). The conflictive relationship between satisfaction and income (Working Paper No. 642). Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department, United States of America.Google Scholar
  15. Mullainathan, S., & Shafir, E. (2009). Savings policy and decision-making in low-income households. Insufficient funds: Savings, assets, credit, and banking among low-income households, 121, 140–142.Google Scholar
  16. Schiaffino, P., & Tetaz, M. (2015 expected). Income, sex, pills and relationships: An empirical study for Argentina. In M. Rojas (Ed.), Handbook of happiness research in Latin America. Springer (in press).Google Scholar
  17. Stevenson, B., & Wolfers, J. (2008). Economic growth and subjective well-being: Reassessing the Easterlin paradox (No.w14282). National Bureau of Economic Research, United States of America.Google Scholar
  18. Veenhoven, R. (1994). World database of happiness: Correlates of happiness: 7837 findings from 603 studies in 69 nations 1911–1994, Vols. 1–3 (Social Indicators Research, Vol. 79, pp 421–436). Rotterdam: Erasmus University Rotterdam.Google Scholar
  19. World Value Survey. (2005). Official data file v. 20090621, 2009. World Values Survey Association. Aggregate File Producer: ASEP/JDS, Madrid.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Tetaz
    • 1
    Email author
  • Pablo Schiaffino
    • 2
    • 3
  • Miguel Braun
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.C.E.D.L.A.S.Universidad de La PlataBuenos AiresArgentina
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsUniversidad de PalermoBuenos AiresArgentina
  3. 3.Deparment of HistoryUniversidad Torcuato Di TellaBuenos AiresArgentina
  4. 4.Department of EconomicsUniversidad de Buenos AiresBuenos AiresArgentina
  5. 5.Fundación PensarBuenos AiresArgentina

Personalised recommendations