I am in shock. For years, my view of society has been shaped in large part by the Easterlin Paradox, the conclusion drawn from a study done in the 1970s that increasing the wealth of a society does not bring about a similar increase in happiness. Since I read this report, I've seen countless examples that confirmed the hypothesis.
Now, according to a report in the New York Times by a couple of Freakonomics economists, I find out that this cornerstone of my thinking is an illusion. Justin Wolfers and Betsey Stevenson compiled the results of many studies unavailable to Richard Easterlin in 1974, and concluded that his finding were not substantiated. In fact, according to the two, evidence shows that-
- "Rich people are happier than poor people.
- Richer countries are happier than poorer countries.
- As countries get richer, they tend to get happier."
No longer can I smugly discount the drive to accumulate wealth as a a fool's ambition. As one whose personal motto is "I never tire of being right," the findings are a major bummer. Now I have to go out and find some money, too.