When Does Economic Growth Improve Well-Being?
Is economic growth the way to pursue better lives? After the second world war, many industrialized countries experienced an unprecedented economic growth that significantly improved people’s living conditions. However, the raising wealth did not result in higher well-being. This conclusion is inconsistent with the well established belief that economic growth is the way to improve the human lot. In this chapter I discuss the evidence on some of the conditions for durable improvements in well-being, namely promoting social capital, and reducing income inequality. I conclude that the quality of growth matters for well-being and that it is possible to adopt policies to make economic growth and well-being compatible.
This article reflects the view of the author and does not engage in any way STATEC Research, ANEC and funding partners. The author gratefully acknowledges the support of the Observatoire de la Compétitivité, Ministère de l’Economie, DG Compétitivité, Luxembourg and STATEC. The author wishes to thank Stefano Bartolini, Andrew Clark, Joshua K. Dubrow, Malgorzata Mikucka, Kelsey O’Connor, Chiara Peroni, and the participants to the “Economics of Happiness” conference in honor of prof. Richard Easterlin (Los Angeles, April 6 2018) and to the “International Conference on Policies for Happiness and Health” (Siena, March 19–21 2018). Possible errors or omissions are entirely the responsibility of the author.
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