Inequality of Happiness in the U.S.: 1972–2010

23 Pages Posted: 6 Aug 2013

See all articles by Indranil Dutta

Indranil Dutta

University of Manchester - Department of Economics

James E. Foster

George Washington University

Date Written: September 2013

Abstract

It is well accepted that a country's GDP may not fully reflect its level of well‐being. In recent years, happiness has emerged as an alternative indicator of well‐being, and research has mainly focused on determining the level of happiness. While it is important to look at the level, the distribution of happiness is also a salient aspect in any evaluation of inequality. There has been a growing interest in the distribution of happiness, although the ordinal nature of the data makes the use of standard inequality measures problematic. Our paper contributes to the literature by exploring the distributions for the U.S. from 1972 to 2010. Based on new methods developed for ordinal data, we are able to overcome the problems associated with ordinality and obtain unambiguous rankings of happiness distributions. We also compute the level of happiness inequality using existing measures based on median centred approaches. Further, we decompose the median based inequality measures of happiness by gender, race, and region.

Keywords: dominance, happiness, inequality, median inequality, scale independence

JEL Classification: D39, I39

Suggested Citation

Dutta, Indranil and Foster, James E., Inequality of Happiness in the U.S.: 1972–2010 (September 2013). Review of Income and Wealth, Vol. 59, Issue 3, pp. 393-415, 2013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2306456 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-4991.2012.00527.x

Indranil Dutta (Contact Author)

University of Manchester - Department of Economics ( email )

Arthur Lewis Building
Oxford Road
Manchester, M13 9PL
United Kingdom

James E. Foster

George Washington University ( email )

2121 I Street NW
Washington, DC 20052
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
1
Abstract Views
491
PlumX Metrics