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Income growth is unlikely to help, but we can learn from international comparisons

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 January 2020

ARIE KAPTEYN
Affiliation:
Professor of Economics, Center for Economic and Social Research, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Corresponding
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Abstract

The paper by Paul Frijters, Andrew E. Clark, Christian Krekel and Richard Layard is a timely attempt to move subjective wellbeing (SWB) to the center of policy attention. I am essentially making three points. First of all, for this enterprise to be successful, one needs to have very solid evidence on what improves SWB and what does not. If policies are proposed that turn out not to improve SWB (or do so far less than expected), then the enterprise of making SWB the centerpiece of policy may be discredited before it has begun in earnest. As an example of this concern, my second point is that raising the incomes of all may have very disappointing effects on measured SWB. My third point is that at the current state of knowledge, the most fertile ground for learning about what works is to exploit international comparisons of policies and how these affect a nation's SWB.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2020

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Income growth is unlikely to help, but we can learn from international comparisons
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