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CEP discussion paper

Economic Growth Evens-Out Happiness: Evidence from Six Surveys


In spite of the great U-turn that saw income inequality rise in Western countries in the 1980s, happiness inequality has fallen in countries that have experienced income growth (but not in those that did not). Modern growth has reduced the share of both the “very unhappy” and the “perfectly happy”. Lower happiness inequality is found both between and within countries, and between and within individuals. Our cross-country regression results argue that the extension of various public goods helps to explain this greater happiness homogeneity. This new stylised fact arguably comes as a bonus to the Easterlin paradox, offering a somewhat brighter perspective for developing countries.


Andrew E. Clark, Sarah Flèche and Claudia Senik

8 October 2014     Paper Number CEPDP1306

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This CEP discussion paper is published under the centre's Community Wellbeing programme.