Veenhoven vs. Easterlin in Happiness Economics: Does Economic Growth Increase Happiness?Hatime Kamilçelebi
Richard Easterlin was one of the pioneers of happiness economics studies and stated in his studies that a significant correlation exists between happiness and per capita income. He also explained that, despite the occurrence of an increase in per capita income in the countries he’d studied in his work, no increase had occurred in the stated happiness levels, with the average happiness level in rich countries not being higher than in poor countries. This result is called the Easterlin Paradox in the literature. Ruut Veenhoven was another pioneer of happiness economics and replied to the contradictory results in Easterlin’s study on economic growth and happiness. Veenhoven later criticized the empirical results of Easterlin’s research by using the same data that Easterlin had used and comparing with the results from other studies. Veenhoven (1989) stated an increase in per capita income to increase that country’s happiness levels. As a response to Veenhoven, Easterlin maintained the view that no long-term correlation exists between economic growth and happiness in his scientific studies. However, Veenhoven stated that his studies on the subject so far and the results tested with data from many countries had revealed the opposite. According to Veenhoven, the Easterlin Paradox is an illusion rather than a rule. These discussions from both happiness economics pioneers form the cornerstones of the happiness economics literature. The aim of the study is to examine in detail the works and research of Easterlinand Veenhoven that occurred in response to one another while simultaneously explaining the relationship between
economic growth and increase in happiness in countries using the results from their works. When comparing the findings obtained from the data used by both scientists, happiness has been concluded to increase more in poor and developing countries as per capita income increases than in developed countries, although some countries were seen to be exceptions.
Mutluluk İktisadında Easterlin’e Karşı Veenhoven: İktisadi Büyüme Mutluluğu Artırır mı?*Hatime Kamilçelebi
Mutluluk iktisadı çalışmalarının öncülerinden biri olan Richard Easterlin çalışmalarında mutluluk ve kişi başına düşen milli gelir arasında anlamlıbir korelasyon olduğunu belirtmiştir. Diğer taraftan, ele aldığı ülkelerde kişi başına düşen milli gelir artışı olmasına rağmen belirtilen mutluluk seviyelerinde artış olmadığını ve zengin ülkelerde ortalama mutluluğun yoksul ülkelerden daha yüksek olmadığını ifade etmiştir. Easterlin’in bu sonucu literatürde “Easterlin Paradoksu” olarak adlandırılmaktadır. Mutluluk iktisadının öncülerinin bir diğeri olan Ruut Veenhoven ise Easterlin’in iktisadi büyüme ve mutlulukla ilgili çalışmasının çelişkili sonuçlarının ardından cevap niteliğinde çalışmalar yapmıştır. Veenhoven daha sonra Easterlin’in bu araştırmasında kullandığı aynı verilerle ve başka çalışma sonuçlarından da yararlanarak Easterlin’in araştırmasının ampirik sonuçlarını eleştirmiştir. Veenhoven, kişi başına düşen milli gelir artışının ülkelerin mutluluğunu artırdığını belirtmektedir. Easterlin, Veenhoven’a cevap niteliğinde yaptığı bilimsel çalışmalarında iktisadi büyüme ve mutluluk arasında uzun süreli bir ilişki olmadığı görüşünü devam ettirmektedir. Öte yandan Veenhoven konuyla ilgili şimdiye kadar yaptığı çalışmalarında çok sayıda ülkenin verileriyle test edilen sonuçların bunun aksini gösterdiğini belirtmektedir. Veenhoven’a göre “Easterlin Paradoksu” bir kuraldan ziyade bir illüzyondur. Her iki mutluluk iktisadı öncüsünün bu tartışmaları mutluluk iktisadı literatürünün temel taşlarıdır. Çalışmanın amacı Easterlin ve Veenhoven’ın birbirine cevap niteliğindeki bu araştırmalarını ve çalışmalarını detaylarıyla incelemek ve aynı zamanda iktisadi büyüme ve ülkelerdeki mutluluk artışı arasında ilişkiyi bu çalışmaların sonuçlarıyla açıklamaktır. Her iki bilim insanının kullandığı verilerden elde ettikleri bulgular karşılaştırıldığında, istisna ülkeler olmakla birlikte, kişi başına düşen milli gelir arttıkça yoksul vegelişmekte olan ülkelerde mutluluğun daha çok, gelişmiş ülkelerde ise daha az arttığı sonucuna varılmıştır.
Studies examining the relationship between per capita income and happiness in the field of happiness economics have recently increased. One of the pioneers of happiness economics was Richard Easterlin, who published his work “Does Economic Growth Improve the Human Lot? Some Empirical Evidence” in 1974 as one of the cornerstones of the field.Easterlin stated in this study that a significant correlation exists between happiness and per capita income. However, he claimed that no increase occurred in the happiness levels individuals stated and that the average happiness in rich countries was not higher than that in poor countries, despite the increase in per capita income in the countries that were the subject of his research. This result, on which much research has been made, found its place in the literature as the Easterlin Paradox. However, after this study, two different views emerged on whether an increase in GDP will increase happiness or not.
Ruut Veenhoven as another pioneer of happiness economics criticized Easterlin’s (1973, 1974) argument in various studies using the same data as well as other data after Easterlin’s
work on economic growth and happiness. Contrary to Easterlin, Veenhoven claimed that an increase in per capita income increases that country’s happiness. Veenhoven stated the results that had been tested with data from many countries had shown the opposite of Easterlin’s claim. Contrary to Easterlin, Veenhoven argued that increasing per capita income increases happiness more in poor and developing countries and less so in developed countries. According to Veenhoven, the Easterlin Paradox was an illusion rather than a rule.
In his scientific studies in response to Veenhoven, Easterlin maintained that no long-term relationship exists between economic growth and happiness and that the relationship was uncertain in some countries. In addition, he emphasized in these more recent studies that, although he had observed an increase in income to increase happiness in some countries, this was not long-term and no trend was present between happiness and income. Therefore, and unlike Veenhoven, Easterlin emphasized that one should not focus on the idea that an increase in economic growth will increase happiness. Easterlin instead argued that the need exists for an approach that should focus on other trends in happiness, such as family life, health, and job satisfaction, rather than focusing on economic growth and feeding the illusion that material things will create happiness. In response, Veenhoven agreed with Easterlin’s view that other variables also increase happiness but maintained the argument that GDP growth also increases happiness. According to Veenhoven, as the average life expectancy of people increases with an increase in income, the time they spend more happily will increase with an increase in happiness. Therefore, people’s happiness will increase annually as a result of certain growth.
These discussions from both happiness economics pioneers form the cornerstones of the happiness economics literature. This study aims to examine in detail the research and studies
of Easterlin and Veenhoven that occurred in response to one other and to explain the relationship between economic growth and increase in happiness in countries using the results from their studies. As a result, while agreeing with the views of two important happiness economists would be correct, in this case one should still state that the effect of per capita income on happiness should not be underestimated, as Veenhoven has stated. This is because each variable brings different amounts of happiness to people. As the average life expectancy of people increases with an increase in income, the time they spend more happily will also increase with an increase in happiness. When considering all this information, this study concludes that, in addition to social policies that will increase happiness, havingpolicymakers determine policies to increase income will be in the interest of society based on the conclusion that economic growth increases happiness, even if only slightly.