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Well-being over time in Britain and the USA

Blanchflower D & Oswald AJ (2004) Well-being over time in Britain and the USA, Journal of Public Economics, 88 (7-8), pp. 1359-1386.

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.

Well-being; Happiness; Britain; USA

AuthorsBlanchflower David, Oswald Andrew J
Publication date07/2004
ISSN 0047-2727

Journal of Public Economics: Volume 88, Issue 7-8 (JUL 2004)

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