Revisiting the “paradox of prosperity”

In: Uncategorized

16 Apr 2008

Today’s New York Times has an article calling “Easterlin’s paradox” into question. The paradox is named after Richard Easterlin, then of the University of Pennsylvania, who argued (PDF) in 1974 that economic growth does not necessarily increase happiness. At a Brookings Institution event last week two economists evidently presented a rebuttal (PDF) of the paradox. From their reassessment of the data they conclude that extra wealth does bring greater happiness after all.

To me whether or not economic growth brings individual happiness is not a key question. Growth should be promoted on the grounds of the objective benefits it brings society. It is also perverse to attach too high a value to happiness. There are many activities which are worthwhile that do not bring happiness and there are many reasons not to be happy about contemporary society.

Comment Form