Living Better on Less? Toward an Economics of Sufficiency

Samuel Alexander

University of Melbourne - Office for Environmental Programs; Simplicity Institute

April 1, 2012

This paper begins by reviewing the empirical studies that have examined the correlation between income and self-reported happiness. While the scholarly debate is far from settled, the weight of evidence suggests that once people have their basic material needs adequately met, the correlation between income and happiness quickly begins to fade. This has been called the ‘income-happiness paradox,’ because it contradicts the widely held assumption that more income and more economic growth will always contribute positively to human wellbeing. After reviewing the empirical literature, the analysis proceeds to consider the various explanations for this so-called ‘paradox,’ and it also considers what implications this paradox might have for people and nations that are arguably overconsuming. The paper concludes by outlining what will be called an ‘economics of sufficiency.’

Number of Pages in PDF File: 20

Keywords: sufficiency, degrowth, voluntary simplicity, sustainable consumption, happiness, Easterlin Paradox

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Date posted: May 15, 2012  

Suggested Citation

Alexander, Samuel, Living Better on Less? Toward an Economics of Sufficiency (April 1, 2012). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2060205 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2060205

Contact Information

Samuel Alexander (Contact Author)
University of Melbourne - Office for Environmental Programs ( email )
185 Pelham Street, Carlton, Victoria 3053
Melbourne, Victoria 3010
Simplicity Institute
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