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Well-being over time in Britain and the USA

By David G. Blanchflower and Andrew J. Oswald


This paper studies happiness in the United States and Great Britain. Reported levels of well-being have declined over the last quarter of a century in the US; life satisfaction has run approximately flat through time in Britain. These findings are consistent with the Easterlin hypothesis [Nations and Households in Economic Growth: Essays in Honour of Moses Abramowitz (1974) Academic Press; J. Econ. Behav. Org., 27 (1995) 35]. The happiness of American blacks, however, has risen. White women in the US have been the biggest losers since the 1970s. Well-being equations have a stable structure. Money buys happiness. People care also about relative income. Well-being is U-shaped in age. The paper estimates the dollar values of events like unemployment and divorce. They are large. A lasting marriage (compared to widowhood as a ‘natural’ experiment), for example, is estimated to be worth $100,000 a year.\ud \u

Topics: HB
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Year: 2002
OAI identifier:

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