Happiness and health: Two paradoxes

  • Borghesi S
  • Vercelli A
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Abstract This paper aims to establish systematic relationships between the two rapidly growing research streams on the socio‐economic determinants of happiness and health. Although they have been pursued quite independently by different communities of researchers, empirical evidence points to very similar underlying causal mechanisms. In particular, in both cases per capita income seems to play a major role only up to a very low threshold, beyond which relative income and other relational factors become crucial for happiness and health. On the basis of these structural analogies, we argue that a process of cross‐fertilisation between these two research streams would contribute to their development by clarifying the relationship between happiness, health and their determinants. Finally, we observe that the two literatures have converging policy implications: measures meant to reduce poverty and inequality and invest in social and environmental capital may improve both health and happiness of the individuals.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Happiness
  • Happiness paradox
  • Health
  • Inequality
  • Poverty
  • Relational goods

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