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Happiness Around the World: The Paradox of Happy Peasants and Miserable Millionaires 1st Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 000-0199549052
ISBN-10: 0199549052
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"Offers a welcome, thought-provoking, and engaging snapshot of this emerging field."--Science


"A comprehensive synthesis of research on determinants of happiness.... It is time that sociologists join economists in pursuit of answers to the question, 'what makes us happy?'"--Contemporary Sociology


"In the past decade there has emerged a substantial literature on the economics of happiness. What makes people happy--earnings, health, the economic environment, the political system, neighbors, family? And what effect does happiness have on earnings, health, and the political system? A prodigious contributor to that literature is Dr. Carol Graham, who has now assembled a masterful review of the subject."--Thomas Schelling, Nobel Laureate in Economics 2005, Distinguished University Professor, Emeritus, University of Maryland


"Most of us could not imagine what it would be like to live in Afghanistan. But Afghans are happier, at least by a little bit, than the average for the world as a whole. They, like people everywhere, are tremendously adaptable, and manage to smile even through the worst of it. Money may make some difference, but it is not everything. Carol Graham, in this well-written volume, describes what makes people happy, and what makes them sad, and shows what the new economics of happiness means for economic and social policy."--George Akerlof, Nobel Laureate in Economics, Koshland Professor of Economics, University of California at Berkeley


"This is a wide-ranging and thoughtful survey of what makes people happy, including fascinating original research and important and provocative conclusions."--Professor Lord Richard Layard, Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics


About the Author


Carol Graham is Senior Fellow and Charles Robinson Chair at the Brookings Institution and College Park Professor at the University of Maryland. She served as Vice President and Director of Governance Studies at Brookings from 2002-2004 and as a Special Advisor to the Deputy Managing Director of the IMF. She was a Special Adviser to the Executive Vice President of the Inter-American Development Bank while on a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellowship, and has consulted at a number of international financial institutions. Her research has received support from the Hewlett, Tinker, and MacArthur Foundations, as well as the Office of the Chief Economist of the World Bank. She is the author of numerous books and articles on poverty, inequality, and social welfare policy. Graham has an A.B. from Princeton University, an M.A. from The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a Ph.D. from Oxford University.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (February 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199549052
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199549054
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 0.9 x 5.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,861,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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Consider these eight questions:

(1) What makes people happy?
(2) Does more money make you happy?
(3) If money does not make people happy, what does?
(4) Where and how does the average person find happiness?
(5) Is there consistency in the determinants of happiness across countries and cultures?
(6) Are happiness levels innate to individuals or can policy and the environment people live in make a difference?
(7) How is happiness affected by poverty or progress?
(8) Is happiness a viable objective for public policy?

These are some of the questions answered in this book by Carol Graham. Graham is Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution (a public policy think tank located in Washington that conducts research in the social sciences) and professor at the University of Maryland. She also is the author of many books and articles on poverty, inequality, and novel measures of well-being.

The first chapter reviews the theory and concepts of happiness and how they have evolved historically. The next chapter looks into the relationship between happiness and income while the third chapter reviews the correlates of happiness in large population samples around the world (in countries such as Chile, Kazakhstan, Peru,, Russia, the United States, and Afghanistan).

The fourth chapter examines how happiness matters to outcomes that we care about (such as health and employment). Chapter five is devoted to health (said to be one of the most important variables in the happiness equation).
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Format: Hardcover
Graham does a great job summarizing both her own research and the related literature. She shows how the determinants of happiness -- age, family structure, employment, etc. -- are similar in countries as diverse as the United States and Afghanistan. We all know that GDP is not a great measure of the happiness of a society, but Graham provides one of the first comparative looks at how people really feel in various societies.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a giant econometrics paper. If you're an academic looking for research data on happiness, it could be just the thing for you.

If you're a layperson wondering how to be happier, you won't get much here. It is extremely academic. Do you understand how to interpret a Pseudo R-squared statistic? Remember your chi-square distribution?

My favorite book on the topic of happiness is The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want. It too is backed by research, but the focus is on actionable results, rather than data analysis.
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Graham makes a very good job researching happiness around the world, trying to understand other culturally diverse projects. In fact, there are many ways to reach happiness, depending heavily on life persistent projects. For exemplo, many happiness projects underlie renouncing to material goods, money, comfort, as was the Evangelical case, typically “religious” or “spiritual”. The European economic concept of happiness prefers other standards, mainly material, without any spirituality, valuing correlation between income and well-being. This is also a methodological scientific claim: happiness has to be measured quantitatively. Although Graham wants firmly to overcome Eurocentric stereotypes, she stays inside Occidental economic happiness (with some use of psychological arguments). We cannot study only that happiness which fits in method quantitatively and represents developed Occident. Happiness is an eternal human project; it’s not reasonable to restrict to Eurocentric experience. Nevertheless the study is very well documented, what enables to make clever comparisons between cultures.
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