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An Economist's Lessons on Happiness: Farewell Dismal Science! by Richard Easterlin 9783030619619

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Once called the "dismal science," economics now offers prescriptions for improving people's happiness. In this book Richard Easterlin, the "father of happiness economics," draws on a half-century of his own research and that conducted by fellow economists and psychologists to answer in plain language questions like: Can happiness be measured? Will more money make me happier? What about finding a partner? Getting married? Having a baby? More exercise? Does religion help? Who is happier-women or men, young or old, rich or poor? How does happiness change as we go through different stages of life?

Public policy is also in the mix: Can the government increase people's happiness? Should the government increase their happiness? Which countries are the happiest and why? Does a country need to be rich to be happy? Does economic growth improve the human lot?

Some of the answers are surprising (no, more money won't do the trick; neither will economic growth; babies are a mixed blessing!), but they are all based on reason and well-vetted evidence from the fields of economics and psychology. In closing, Easterlin traces the genesis of the ongoing "Happiness Revolution" and considers its implications for people's lives down the road.

About the Author

Richard A. Easterlin is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a Distinguished Fellow of the American Economic Association, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a former president of the Population Association of America, Economic History Association and Western Economic Association International.


"The book is primarily aimed at undergraduate students in the social sciences who might be taking a first course on happiness economics. ... Indeed, and more generally, the book has an informal feel. ... the book is both a great personal summary of Easterlin's accumulated experience of working with subjective wellbeing data and an important rallying call for the social sciences to generate new lessons with which to increase wellbeing across the globe." (Caspar Kaiser, Journal of Happiness Studies, Vol. 23, 2022)

"An Economist's Lessons on Happiness reveals the results of happiness studies in clear and concise chapters which are structured as if they are a college lecture. ... The students are also a tool that reveals the intended audience for the book-it is written for the popular audience rather than the expert reader. ... He suggests that we live in a time in which well-being is being better articulated, understood, and prioritized than ever before." (Robert Biswas-Diener, Journal of Happiness Studies, April 1, 2022)

"An Economist's Lessons on Happiness is a captivating and enlightening journey through many different facets of happiness. ... The concepts are well explained and easy to apply. ... This book provides a satisfying, holistic perspective on the many factors contributing to happiness in an educational and personable read. This is a great opportunity to assess whether we are living a life that is true to ourselves, and to identify areas for change and improvement." (Tara Dean, The Psychologist,, Vol. 34, July, 2021)

"An Economist's Lessons on Happiness: Farewell, Dismal Science! ... is the fruit of a lifetime of his own research and that of fellow economists and psychologists dedicated to understanding and improving happiness - whether of individuals or nations." (Susan Bell,, March 17, 2021)

Book Information
ISBN 9783030619619
Author Richard A. Easterlin
Format Paperback
Page Count 179
Imprint Springer Nature Switzerland AG
Publisher Springer Nature Switzerland AG


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