Happiness and Economic Growth

My piece on happiness and economic growth in this month’s non-American Prospect has escaped from behind the paywall and is now available for your cost-free reading pleasure. I have to say I’m pretty psyched that my kitten-strapped-to-a-guillotine-connected-to-a-bicycle analogy came through intact:

The fact that average self-reported happiness has not risen with average incomes does not imply that there is no point in becoming richer. A steady rate of growth may be necessary to keep happiness and other good things at a high stable level. (Imagine a guillotine, on which a kitten is strapped, connected to a bicycle that must be pedalled ever more quickly to keep the blade aloft. Slow down, and the kitten gets it.) In The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth, Harvard economist Benjamin Friedman argues that steady economic growth “fosters greater opportunity, tolerance of diversity, social mobility, commitment to fairness and dedication to democracy”—a list I doubt any politician would come out against.

I assure you that it all makes sense in context.

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center