The paradox of happiness: towards an alternative explanation

The paradox of happiness: towards an alternative explanation There is a common empirical finding in many countries that substantial increases in real per capita income do not correspond to equivalent increases of individual happiness. These findings have puzzled many economists that some have called the “paradox of happiness”. There have been a number of explanations regarding this paradox. This paper attempts to tackle the paradox of happiness by employing the idea of hierarchical choice. The hierarchical approach implies that there are some basic human needs which must be satisfied before non-basic needs come into the picture. The paper argues that the hierarchical structure of needs implies that the satisfaction of basic needs provides substantial increases to individual happiness compared to the subsequent satisfaction of secondary needs. This might also be an alternative explanation of empirical findings showing a positive relationship between income and happiness up to certain level of income. It can also be combined with existing explanations of the paradox and thus enhance our understanding of the issue. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Happiness Studies Springer Journals

The paradox of happiness: towards an alternative explanation

Journal of Happiness Studies, Volume 9 (2) – Apr 7, 2007

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2007 by Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Subject
Social Sciences; Quality of Life Research; Personality and Social Psychology; Economics, general; Quality of Life Research; Philosophy, general; Positive Psychology
ISSN
1389-4978
eISSN
1573-7780
D.O.I.
10.1007/s10902-007-9054-5
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

There is a common empirical finding in many countries that substantial increases in real per capita income do not correspond to equivalent increases of individual happiness. These findings have puzzled many economists that some have called the “paradox of happiness”. There have been a number of explanations regarding this paradox. This paper attempts to tackle the paradox of happiness by employing the idea of hierarchical choice. The hierarchical approach implies that there are some basic human needs which must be satisfied before non-basic needs come into the picture. The paper argues that the hierarchical structure of needs implies that the satisfaction of basic needs provides substantial increases to individual happiness compared to the subsequent satisfaction of secondary needs. This might also be an alternative explanation of empirical findings showing a positive relationship between income and happiness up to certain level of income. It can also be combined with existing explanations of the paradox and thus enhance our understanding of the issue.

Journal

Journal of Happiness StudiesSpringer Journals

Published: Apr 7, 2007

References

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