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Do we really know what makes us happy? A review of the economic literature on the factors associated with subjective well-being

Dolan, Paul and Peasgood, Tessa and White, Mathew (2008) Do we really know what makes us happy? A review of the economic literature on the factors associated with subjective well-being. Journal of Economic Psychology, 29 (1). pp. 94-122. ISSN 0167-4870

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.joep.2007.09.001

Abstract

There is increasing interest in the “economics of happiness”, reflected by the number of articles that are appearing in mainstream economics journals that consider subjective well-being (SWB) and its determinants. This paper provides a detailed review of this literature. It focuses on papers that have been published in economics journals since 1990, as well as some key reviews in psychology and important unpublished working papers. The evidence suggests that poor health, separation, unemployment and lack of social contact are all strongly negatively associated with SWB. However, the review highlights a range of problems in drawing firm conclusions about the causes of SWB; these include some contradictory evidence, concerns over the impact on the findings of potentially unobserved variables and the lack of certainty on the direction of causality. We should be able to address some of these problems as more panel data become available.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescriptio...
Additional Information: © 2008 Elsevier
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
JEL classification: D - Microeconomics > D6 - Welfare Economics > D60 - General
I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I3 - Welfare and Poverty > I31 - General Welfare; Basic Needs; Living Standards; Quality of Life; Happiness
Sets: Departments > Social Policy
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2011 10:13
Last Modified: 14 Dec 2011 11:41
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/32567

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