Happiness, growth, and the life cycle


  • Vlad Glăveanu


Richard A. Easterlin Edited by H. Hinte and K.F. Zimmermann Oxford University Press, 2010 The human being in pursuit of happiness is an ancient philosophical theme, revealing perhaps a perennial truth about us as individuals, as a species, and also about our societies. Consumerism, capitalism, globalisation. Terms we use to define the economic order in today’s world, or at least a ‘Western model’ of it. Where does happiness fit into this money-based equation? Can wealth or growth make us happy, or, better said, are they sufficient to make us happy? These are all questions situated at the core of Richard Easterlin’s concerns and reflected in the volume ‘Happiness, Growth, and the Life Cycle’ (Oxford University Press, 2010; edited by H. Hinte and K.F. Zimmermann). What is important to know about this book from the start is the fact that it addresses a variety of audiences beyond those purely interested in economic science. Its approach reflects a social science perspective and, as such, it is of interest for students of many disciplines, and, significantly for us here, for psychologists at large. Easterlin’s work represents an exemplary attempt to integrate economic and social psychological knowledge resulting in the enrichment of both. Unsurprisingly, the author is considered a founding father of behavioural economics and the economics of happiness. ‘Happiness, Growth, and the Life Cycle’ is a book that summarises key findings in these areas and leaves us not only with answers, but also with some important questions to think about.