The Public Interest

Does money buy happiness?

Robert E. Lane

Fall 1993

TWENTY YEARS ago in this journal, Richard Easterlin argued that richer societies are no happier than poor ones. However, Easterlin argued, within any one country richer people are happier than poorer people. He explained this anomaly as follows: People judge their economic welfare by that of their neighbors. If only national income rises, an individual’s status, vis-a-vis his neighbors, remains unchanged.

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