Happiness Around the World: The paradox of happy peasants and miserable millionaires

Paperback | February 27, 2012

byCarol Graham

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For centuries the pursuit of happiness was the preserve of either the philosopher or the voluptuary and took second place to the basic need to survive on the one hand, and the pressure to conform to social conventions and morality on the other. More recently there is a burgeoning interest inthe study of happiness, in the social sciences and in the media. Can we really answer the question what makes people happy? Is it really grounded in credible methods and data? Is there consistency in the determinants of happiness across countries and cultures? Are happiness levels innate to individuals or can policy and the environment make a difference? How is happiness affected by poverty? By economic progress? Is happiness a viable objective for policy? This book is anattempt to answer these questions, based on research on the determinants of happiness in countries around the world, ranging from Peru and Russia to the U.S. and Afghanistan. The book reviews the theory and concepts of happiness, explaining how these concepts underpin a line of research which is both an attempt to understand the determinants of happiness and a tool for understanding the effects of a host of phenomena on human well being. The research finds surprisingconsistency in the determinants of happiness across levels of development. Yet there is still much debate over the relationship between happiness and income. The book explores the effects of many mediating factors in that relationship, ranging from macroeconomic trends and democracy to inequalityand crime. It also reviews what we know about happiness and health and how that relationship varies according to income levels and health status. It concludes by discussing the potential - and the potential pitfalls - of using happiness surveys to contribute to better public policy.

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For centuries the pursuit of happiness was the preserve of either the philosopher or the voluptuary and took second place to the basic need to survive on the one hand, and the pressure to conform to social conventions and morality on the other. More recently there is a burgeoning interest inthe study of happiness, in the social science...

Carol Graham is Senior Fellow and Charles Robinson Chair at the Brookings Institution and College Park Professor at the University of Maryland. She served as Vice President and Director of Governance Studies at Brookings from 2002-2004 and as a Special Advisor to the Deputy Managing Director of the IMF. She was a Special Adviser to the...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pagesPublished:February 27, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199606285

ISBN - 13:9780199606283

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Table of Contents

Introduction - Why Study Happiness?1. The Economics of Happiness2. The Happiness and Income Debate: Substance, Methodology, and the Easterlin Paradox3. The Determinants of Happiness around the World4. Does Happiness Matter?5. Happiness and Health across Countries and Cultures6. Economic Growth, Crises, Inequality, and More7. Adapting to Good and Bad Fortune: How Friends, Freedom, Crime, and Corruption affect Happiness8. Happiness around the World: Lessons - and Questions - for Policy

Editorial Reviews

"This is a wide-ranging and thoughtful survey of what makes people happy, including fascinating original research and important and provocative conclusions." --Professor Lord Richard Layard, Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics