The link between higher national income and higher national life satisfaction is critical to economic policymaking. This column presents new evidence that the connection is hump-shaped. There is a clear, positive relation in the poorer nations and regions, but it flattens out at around $30,000–$35,000, and then turns negative.
A commission on the measurement of economic performance and social progress was created on the French government’s initiative. Since 2008, this distinguished group of social scientists has put subjective well-being into the limelight as a possible supplement to traditional measures of development such as GDP (Stiglitz et al. 2009). The British government has also shown considerable interest in developing a subjective well-being measure in recent years as an instrument for policy.
Whereas existing literature has documented strong correlations between national incomes and measures of schooling attainment, causality has been hard to pin down. Much of empirical work had tended to interpret these correlations as implying an effect of human capital on national income, but recent calibrated models have argued that most of the link works, in fact, the other way around. This paper takes a close look as to whether income growth causes schooling from an empirical perspective.