HAPPINESS, GROWTH, AND PUBLIC POLICY

Authors

  • RICHARD A. EASTERLIN

    1. Easterlin: University Professor and Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0253. Phone 213-740-6993, Fax 213-740-8543, E-mail easterl@usc.edu
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    • I am grateful to Robson Morgan and Malgorzata Switek for valuable assistance, and to Lucien Bebchuk, Paul David, Wes Wilson, and several anonymous referees for helpful comments. The University of Southern California provided financial assistance.


  • Presidential address, Western Economic Association International, July 1, 2012.

Abstract

If society's goal is to increase people's feelings of well-being, economic growth in itself will not do the job. Full employment and a generous and comprehensive social safety net do increase happiness. Such policies are arguably affordable not only in higher income nations but also in countries that account for most of the population of the less-developed world. These conclusions are suggested by an analysis of a wide range of evidence on happiness in countries throughout the world. (JEL I31, I38, O21, F20, D60, E60)

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