Feeling down? Money might help, according to Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers. The Wharton economists released a paper arguing that countries with higher gross domestic products have happier citizens. The study shatters the conventional wisdom known as the Easterlin Paradox, which holds that GDP and happiness are largely unrelated.
Prof Wolfers said he and Prof Stevenson had reached their dissenting conclusion partly owing to improved international statistics, covering more countries – poor as well as rich – and a greater number of happiness surveys that had been conducted over the past three decades.
The paper will be discussed next week at the spring economic conference of Brookings, the think-tank, and is likely to provoke lively debate.
Prof Easterlin, who has seen a draft of the paper, said he believed that as far as he was concerned his paradox still stood.
While commending his younger critics for “serious research”, he said they needed to focus more on what was happening within specific countries, rather than “throwing all of these countries together”.
A quick glance at the IMF’s GDP rankings show a few glaring contradictions. China ranks two notches higher than France in GDP, not happiness, and everyone’s favorite Middle Eastern playground, Iran, falls just two slots behind Denmark. And, of course, everyone is sadder than the United States. Um, maybe this Easterlin fellow was right after all.