Andreas Knabe, Ronnie Schöb, Joachim Weimann, 17 November 2010

“We were happy in those days… Because we were poor”, goes the old Monty Python sketch. This column suggests there might be some shred of truth in this joke. It finds that while unemployed people report being less satisfied with their life in general, their emotional wellbeing experienced during day-to-day activities does not seem to suffer at all.

Justin Wolfers , Betsey Stevenson, Daniel Sacks, 11 October 2010

Does money buy happiness? Discussion Paper 8048 examines the relationship between subjective well-being and income along three dimensions: between individuals in the same country, between other countries, and during a country's growth. In each case higher income correlates with higher reported levels of subjective well-being. Higher income, the authors conclude, does in fact make people happier with their lives.

Daniel Sgroi, 26 July 2010

Happiness economics typically looks at how macro-level variables such as economic growth affect happiness. This column turns such thinking on its head and asks whether a rise in happiness might change behaviour at the micro-level, looking specifically at productivity. Experiments suggest that happiness raises productivity by increase workers' effort. Economists may need to take the emotional state of economic agents seriously.

John Helliwell, Christopher Barrington-Leigh, Anthony Harris, Haifang Huang, 24 April 2010

What accounts for life satisfaction differences across countries? This column presents new findings from the Gallup World Poll of more than 140,000 respondents worldwide. It suggests the happiest nations are those with strong social support from family and friends, freedom in making life choices, and low levels of corruption.

Andrew Clark, 02 April 2010

Andrew Clark of the Paris School of Economics talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about his research on the relationship between income and health, which examines changes in the health and health behaviours (smoking and drinking) of British people who win prizes in the national lottery. The interview was recorded at the Royal Economic Society’s annual conference at the University of Surrey in March 2010.

Carol Graham, 30 January 2010

What measures of human wellbeing are the most accurate benchmarks of economic progress and human development? This column presents new research suggesting that while people can adapt to be happy at low levels of income, they are far less happy when there is uncertainty over their future wealth. This may help explain why different societies tolerate such different levels of health, crime, and governance, and why US happiness plummeted during the global financial crisis but has since been restored despite incomes remaining lower.

Arik Levinson, 09 September 2009

If governments supply public goods that market forces will not, they ought to assign monetary values to those goods so that they can prioritise projects. This column discusses the difficulties of estimating those values using happiness surveys. Using a new method, it estimates that people value a one-standard-deviation improvement in air quality at $40.

Justin Wolfers, 24 July 2009

Justin Wolfers of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about happiness economics – the state of knowledge; the explosion of data; the debate about the Easterlin paradox; the impact of inequality and the business cycle on people’s happiness; and the implications for public policy. The interview was recorded at the Centre for Economic Performance in London in June 2009.

Richard Easterlin, 10 April 2009

Richard Easterlin of the University of Southern California talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about the Easterlin paradox – his finding, first published in 1974, that although people with higher incomes are more likely to report being happy, rising incomes do not lead to increases in subjective wellbeing. The interview was recorded at the American Economic Association meetings in San Francisco in January 2009.

Andrew Clark, Ed Diener, Yannis Georgellis, Richard Lucas, 05 February 2008

Does time heal all wounds? Here is new evidence on how major events – good and bad – impact people’s long-run life satisfaction.

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