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The Science of Well-Being$
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Felicia A. Huppert, Nick Baylis, and Barry Keverne

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780198567523

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198567523.001.0001

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* Does money buy happiness?

* Does money buy happiness?

(p.460) (p.461) Chapter 18* Does money buy happiness?
The Science of Well-Being

Robert H. Frank

Oxford University Press

This chapter tackles the apparent paradox of wealth and happiness, which shows that average happiness levels change very little even as the average incomes of people have risen significantly over time. Subjective well-being has been traditionally measured through surveys and observable behaviour. Findings from research show that rich people are happier than poor people, that relative income affects happiness more than absolute income, and that the accumulation of more wealth would be a source of happiness provided it is spent in certain ways. Human beings' capacity for adaptation is also discussed and found to be more effective on certain stimuli than on others. Studies on the choices between conspicuous and inconspicuous consumption reveal that well-being can be significantly improved with the rational reallocation of our resources in certain ways. However, contextual differences between the two types of consumption cause seemingly irrational choices that people make regarding their well-being.

Keywords:   wealth, happiness, paradox, relative income, absolute income, adaptation, well-being

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