EconPapers    
Economics at your fingertips  
 

Happiness Inequality in the United States

Betsey Stevenson () and Justin Wolfers ()

No 14220, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: This paper examines how the level and dispersion of self-reported happiness has evolved over the period 1972-2006. While there has been no increase in aggregate happiness, inequality in happiness has fallen substantially since the 1970s. There have been large changes in the level of happiness across groups: Two-thirds of the black-white happiness gap has been eroded, and the gender happiness gap has disappeared entirely. Paralleling changes in the income distribution, differences in happiness by education have widened substantially. We develop an integrated approach to measuring inequality and decomposing changes in the distribution of happiness, finding a pervasive decline in within-group inequality during the 1970s and 1980s that was experienced by even narrowly-defined demographic groups. Around one-third of this decline has subsequently been unwound. Juxtaposing these changes with large rises in income inequality suggests an important role for non-pecuniary factors in shaping the well-being distribution.

JEL-codes: D3 D63 I3 J1 Y1 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2008-08
Note: LE LS PE
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (71) Track citations by RSS feed

Published as Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2008. "Happiness Inequality in the United States," Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(S2), pages S33-S79, 06.

Downloads: (external link)
http://www.nber.org/papers/w14220.pdf (application/pdf)

Related works:
Journal Article: Happiness Inequality in the United States (2008) Downloads
Working Paper: Happiness Inequality in the United States (2008) Downloads
Working Paper: Happiness Inequality in the United States (2008) Downloads
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.

Export reference: BibTeX RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan) HTML/Text

Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14220

Ordering information: This working paper can be ordered from
http://www.nber.org/papers/w14220

Access Statistics for this paper

More papers in NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.. Contact information at EDIRC.
Bibliographic data for series maintained by ().

 
Page updated 2020-01-17
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14220