Washington: It’s an old adage that we usually quote but don’t really believe. "Money doesn’t buy happiness." However, now a new study by an economist has found it to be true.
A new collaborative paper by Richard Easterlin — namesake of the "Easterlin Paradox" and founder of the field of happiness studies — offers the broadest range of evidence to date demonstrating that a higher rate of economic growth does not result in a greater increase of happiness.
Across a worldwide sample of 37 countries, rich and poor, ex-Communist and capitalist, Easterlin and his co-authors shows strikingly consistent results: over the long term, a sense of well-being within a country does not go up with income.
In contrast to shorter-term studies that have shown a correlation between income growth and happiness, this paper examined the happiness and income relationship in each country for an average of 22 years and at least ten years.
"This article rebuts recent claims that there is a positive long-term relationship between happiness and income, when in fact, the relationship is nil," explained Easterlin, USC University Professor and professor of economics in the USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences.
Easterlin and a team of USC researchers spent five years reassessing the Easterlin Paradox, a key economic concept introduced by Easterlin in the seminal 1974 paper, "Does Economic Growth Improve the Human Lot? Some Empirical Evidence."
"Simply stated, the happiness-income paradox is this: at a point in time both among and within countries, happiness and income are positively correlated. But, over time, happiness does not increase when a country’s income increases," explained Easterlin, whose influence has created an entire subfield of economic inquiry.
The study has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.