On the Record

The Economics of Happiness

Carol Graham

Does money buy happiness, love or even sex? The answers come from the fast-growing field of “happiness economics.” A group of economists and psychologists in that field are touting the creation of so-called “national well-being indicators” which would track a country’s happiness in the same way gross domestic product measures a country’s economic strength.

Pure economics, they say, can’t explain the fact that the U.S. is now three times richer than it was since the end of World War Two, but Americans are no happier than they were then. In fact, young Americans today are more anxious and more stressed out. One recent study found that frequent sex makes people happier, but contrary to perceptions, money can’t buy sex or a good sex life.

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