Towards a Multi-Disciplinary Approach
Edited by Amitava Krishna Dutt and Benjamin Radcliff
Chapter 4: Happiness and Domain Satisfaction: New Directions for the Economics of Happiness
Richard A. Easterlin and Onnicha Sawangfa1 The purpose of this chapter is to see to what extent the domain satisfaction model of psychology explains four different patterns of happiness in the USA: (1) the positive cross-sectional relation of happiness to socioeconomic status, (2) the nearly horizontal time series trend, (3) the hill pattern of life cycle happiness, and (4) the decline across generations. The domain model sees each of these happiness patterns as the net result of the corresponding patterns of satisfaction that people have in each of several realms of life – in the present analysis, finances, family life, work and health. These domain satisfaction patterns do not simply replicate the happiness pattern – with regard to age, for example, happiness may go up, but satisfaction with finances, down. Thus, given that the domain satisfaction patterns may differ from that for happiness, and also among themselves, the questions of interest here are specifically the following. Do the patterns by socio-economic status of satisfaction with each of the following – finances, family life, work and health – come together in a way that predicts the positive cross-sectional relation of happiness to socioeconomic status? Do the life cycle patterns of satisfaction in each of these four domains account for the hill pattern of life cycle happiness? Do the time series trends in satisfaction with finances, family life, work and health explain the nearly horizontal time series trend in happiness? Finally, is the decline in happiness across cohorts the net outcome of the cohort patterns of...
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