How do income growth, socio-economic equality, and inclusion interact to determine levels of satisfaction? Happiness is considered from three angles. First, economic growth by itself does not secure human happiness. While there are benefits to growth that occurs within favorable societal structures, these do not reach everyone in a society, given the centrality of relative income and status to people’s satisfaction levels. Second, though equality and inclusiveness are obvious potential contributors to happiness, inclusiveness can sometimes take socially damaging forms. A meaningful integration of the concept into social science thinking about the economy and welfare requires nuanced psychological approaches. Third, since preference formation is endogenous to a society, the challenge of increasing human satisfaction inevitably raises the question of how deliberate an effort should a “society” make to tilt preference systems towards the experience of satisfaction.
— Suggested Readings
Chambers, Robert. (1997) Whose Reality Counts? Putting the Last First. London: Intermediate Technology Publications.
Davies, James B., Susanna Sondstron, Anthony Shorrocks and Edward N. Wolff (2011) “The Level and Distribution of World Wealth” Economic Journal, Vol. 121, March, pp.223-254. [PDF 200KB]
Helliwell, John, Richard Layard and Jeffrey Sachs (editors) (2012) World Happiness Report. Columbia University: The Earth Institute. [5MB]
Isham, Jonathan, Thomas Kelly, and Sunder Ramaswamy (editors) (2002) Social capital and economic development: Well-being in developing countries. Cheltenham, U.K. and Northampton, Mass.: Elgar.
Sen, Amartya K. (1977) “Rational fools: a critique of the behavioral foundations of economic theory” Philosophy and Public Affairs 6(4): 2317-344. [PDF 200KB]
Wamae, Watu. 2012. Innovation for social inclusion in Africa: thinking aloud. Innovation for Social Inclusion in Africa: Thinking Aloud.