Modern Economic Growth and Quality of Life: Cross Sectional and Time Series Evidence

61 Pages Posted: 15 Apr 2007

See all articles by Richard A. Easterlin

Richard A. Easterlin

University of Southern California - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Laura Angelescu

University of Southern California - Department of Economics

Date Written: April 12, 2007

Abstract

To what extent are improvements in quality of life (material living levels, health, education, political and civil rights, happiness, and the like) associated with economic growth? International comparisons of quality of life (QoL) conditions almost always point to a strong positive association with real GDP per capita. Historical experience, however, frequently belies the results of these comparisons. More often than not the timing of various improvements in QoL, material living levels excepted, is different from that in real GDP per capita - some indicators preceding, others following. Moreover, the sequence of improvements in various aspects of QoL is not always the same from one part of the world to another. And sometimes, as in the case of happiness and life satisfaction, QoL indicators remain unchanged despite a doubling or more of real GDP per capita. In contrast to the results of simple international point-of-time comparisons, history suggests that improvements in many realms of life are not an automatic result of economic growth.

Keywords: Quality of life, well-being, economic growth, international and historical comparisons

JEL Classification: N30, O57, D60, Y1

Suggested Citation

Easterlin, Richard A. and Angelescu, Laura, Modern Economic Growth and Quality of Life: Cross Sectional and Time Series Evidence (April 12, 2007). IEPR Working Paper No. 07.4; IZA Discussion Paper No. 2755; USC CLEO Research Paper No. C07-7. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=980354 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.980354

Richard A. Easterlin (Contact Author)

University of Southern California - Department of Economics ( email )

3620 South Vermont Ave. Kaprielian (KAP) Hall, 300
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 7 / 9
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Laura Angelescu

University of Southern California - Department of Economics ( email )

3620 South Vermont Ave. Kaprielian (KAP) Hall, 300
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

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