Location of Repository

Happiness and economic performance

By Andrew J. Oswald


If a nation's economic performance improves, how much extra happiness does that buy its citizens? Most public debate assumes -- without real evidence -- that the answer is a lot. This paper examines the question by using information on well-being in Western countries. The data are of four kinds: on reported happiness, on reported life satisfaction, on reported job satisfaction, and on the\ud number of suicides. These reveal patterns that are not visible to the anecdotal eye.\ud In industrialized countries, well-being appears to rise as real national income grows. But the rise is so small as to be sometimes almost undetectable. Unemployment, however, seems to be a large source of unhappiness. This suggests that governments ought to be trying to reduce the amount of joblessness in the economy. In a country that is already rich, policy aimed instead at raising economic growth may be of comparatively little value

Topics: HC
Publisher: Blackwell
Year: 1997
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:335

Suggested articles



  1. (1996). A Paper on Unhappiness and Unemployment in Germany", doi
  2. (1992). A Rational Approach to Rational Suicide", doi
  3. (1978). A Study of Psychological Well-Being", doi
  4. (1992). Age and Occupational Well-Being", doi
  5. (1995). Age Differences in Three Components of Employee Well-Being, doi
  6. (1983). Altruism, Jealousy and the Theory of Optimal Non-Linear Taxation", doi
  7. (1984). An Evaluation of Subjective Well-Being Measures", doi
  8. (1985). Choosing the Right Pond , doi
  9. (1992). Correlations, Causes and Heuristics in Surveys of Life Satisfaction",
  10. (1990). Culture Shift in Advanced Industrial Society , doi
  11. (1990). Decision Latitude, Job Demands, doi
  12. (1974). Does Economic Growth Improve the Human Lot? Some Empirical Evidence", doi
  13. (1980). Does Rapid Economic Growth Improve the Human Lot? Some Empirical Evidence", doi
  14. (1989). Economic Stress and Suicide: Multi-Level Analysis",
  15. (1993). eds. The Quality of Life , doi
  16. (1982). Employment and Unemployment: A Social Psychological Approach , doi
  17. (1994). Escaping Unemployment , Dissertation Series: Swedish Institute for Social Research,
  18. (1991). Further Validation of the Satisfaction with Life Scale: Evidence for the CrossMethod Convergence of Well-being Measures", doi
  19. (1993). Happiness in Nations: Subjective Appreciation of Life
  20. (1996). Happiness Surveys: Some Comparability Issues and an Exploratory Survey Based on Just Perceivable Increments", doi
  21. (1979). Happiness: Time Trends, Seasonal Variation, Inter-Survey Differences and Other Mysteries", doi
  22. (1980). Human Satisfactions and Public Policy", doi
  23. (1985). I Can't Stand It Any More: Suicide and Unemployment", doi
  24. (1991). Is Happiness Relative?", doi
  25. (1996). Is Job Satisfaction U-Shaped in Age?", doi
  26. (1997). Is Utility Related to Employment Status?",
  27. (1992). Job Satisfaction and Gender: Why are Women so Happy at Work?", doi
  28. (1996). Job Satisfaction in Britain", doi
  29. (1980). Job Satisfaction in the United States in the 1970s", doi
  30. (1992). Measures of Economic Well-Being as Predictors of Psychological WellBeing", doi
  31. (1978). Optimal Redistributive Taxation when Individual Welfare Depends upon Relative Income", doi
  32. (1985). Para-Suicide and Unemployment among Men in Edinburgh 1968-82", doi
  33. (1996). Satisfaction and Comparison Income", doi
  34. (1993). Satisfying Work - If You Can Get It",
  35. (1991). Self versus Peer Ratings of Specific Emotional Traits: Evidence of Convergent and Discriminant Validity", doi
  36. (1976). Social Indicators of Well-Being , doi
  37. (1997). Some Dimensions of the 'Quality of Life' During the British Industrial Revolution", mimeo, London School of Economics.
  38. (1991). Stability and Change in Levels and Structure of Subjective Well-Being: doi
  39. (1984). Subjective Well-Being", doi
  40. (1897). Suicide: A Study in Sociology , doi
  41. (1986). The Continuing Significance of Race: doi
  42. (1976). The Joyless E conomy , doi
  43. (1997). The Legacy of Communist Labor Relations", Industrial and Labor Relations Review , doi
  44. (1996). The Macroeconomics of Happiness", mimeo, doi
  45. (1990). The Measurement of Well-Being and Other Aspects of Mental Health", doi
  46. (1965). The Pattern of Human Concerns , doi
  47. (1976). The Quality of American Life , Russell Sage Foundation, doi
  48. (1992). The Relationship Between Measures of Subjective and Economic Well-Being: A New Look", doi
  49. (1996). The Rising Well-Being of the Young", paper presented at an doi
  50. The Role of Income, Life-Style Deprivation and Financial Strain in Mediating the Impact of Unemployment on Psychological Distress: Evidence from the Republic of Ireland", doi
  51. (1981). The Sense of Well-Being in America , doi
  52. (1976). The Social Limits of Growth , doi
  53. (1978). The Structure of Subjective Well-Being in Nine Western Societies", doi
  54. (1992). Trends in Suicide Deaths in England and Wales", Population Trends , 69, Autumn, Parts I and II.
  55. (1988). Unemployment and Mental Health: Some British Studies", doi
  56. (1985). Unemployment and Mental Health: Some Evidence from Panel Data", doi
  57. (1983). Unemployment and Psychological Distress in Young People: The Moderating Role of Employment Commitment', doi
  58. (1993). Unemployment Rate as Predictor of Rate of Psychiatric Admission", doi
  59. (1995). Unemployment, Gender and Life Satisfaction", mimeo,
  60. (1993). Well-Being over Time in Britain and the USA", paper presented at an Economics of Happiness Conference, London School of Economics.
  61. (1997). What Makes an Entrepreneur?", doi
  62. (1997). Why Are the Unemployed so Unhappy? Evidence from Panel Data", Economica , doi
  63. (1995). Will Raising the Incomes of All Increase the Happiness of All?", doi
  64. (1987). Work, Unemployment , and Mental Health. doi
  65. (1996). Working and Well-Being: Some International Evidence",

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.