Why does income growth fail to make us happier? Searching for the treadmills behind the paradox of happiness

The Journal of Socio-Economics 35 (2006) 366–381

Several recent studies have shown that in developed countries, reported levels of happiness do not increase in line with income levels, and people are experiencing more and more time pressure. Together these findings suggest that people do not maximize happiness—they would be better off if they worked less and had more leisure time. Two treadmill effects behind this paradox of happiness have been described in the literature: the positional treadmill, the hedonic treadmill. In this paper I propose two additional treadmill effects: the multi-option treadmill, and the time-saving treadmill, which both seem to make a significant contribution to the stagnation of happiness.

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