Explaining Southern California's economy

As China gets richer, its people don't get happier

Chinese students look at a newspaper out

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Chinese students look at a newspaper outside an employment fair in Hefei, in east China's Anhui province. China's economy has been booming. But are it's citizens really happy?

I've written about Richard Easterlin here before. He's a noted economist and professor at the University of Southern California who's often credited with pioneering "happiness" as a worthy subject for economists to study. He even has an economic concept named after him, the so-called "Easterlin Paradox," which is reasonably well summarized at Wikipedia: "[W]ithin a given country people with higher incomes are more likely to report being happy. However, in international comparisons, the average reported level of happiness does not vary much with national income per person, at least for countries with income sufficient to meet basic needs."

So rich people in a society say that they're happier than poor people, but when you compare countries, richer countries aren't any happier than poorer countries. [This isn't exactly right: you have to take time into account, because rising income does make people happier, but over time it reaches a point where it doesn't. See the Update below.]