Easterlin Paradox

After World War II, industrialized countries experienced unprecedented economic growth that significantly improved people’s living conditions. However, the rising wealth did not result in rising well-being. This discrepancy was first identified in 1974 by Richard A. Easterlin after observing the American time series of gross domestic product per capita and of subjective well-being. Subsequently, the absence of a correlation between economic growth and well-being became known as the Easterlin paradox. In recent years, this issue has been at the center of a considerable debate, as it suggests that contemporary societies should not expect durable improvements in their well-being from economic growth. The subsequent literature has mainly focused on two issues: (1) how general is Easterlin’s conclusion and (2) what are the correlates of well-being over time, besides ...

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