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Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 22 No. 2 (Spring 2008)

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Income, Health, and Well-Being around the World: Evidence from the Gallup World Poll

Article Citation

Deaton, Angus. 2008. "Income, Health, and Well-Being around the World: Evidence from the Gallup World Poll." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 22(2): 53-72.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.22.2.53

Abstract

During 2006, the Gallup Organization conducted a World Poll that used an identical questionnaire for national samples of adults from 132 countries. I analyze the data on life satisfaction and on health satisfaction and look at their relationships with national income, age, and life-expectancy. The analysis confirms a number of earlier findings and also yields some new and different results. Average life satisfaction is strongly related to per capita national income. High-income countries have greater life-satisfaction than low-income countries. Each doubling of income is associated with almost a one-point increase in life satisfaction on a scale from 0 to 10 and, unlike most previous findings, the effect holds across the range of international incomes; if anything, it is slightly stronger among rich countries. Conditional on the level of national per capita income, the effects of economic growth on life satisfaction are negative, not positive as would be predicted by previous discussion and previous micro-based empirical evidence. Neither life satisfaction nor health satisfaction responds strongly to objective measures of health, such as life expectancy or the prevalence of HIV infection, so that neither provides a reliable indicator of population well-being over all domains, or even over health.

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Authors

Deaton, Angus (Princeton U)

JEL Classifications

I12: Health Production
I31: General Welfare
O15: Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
O47: Measurement of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
P36: Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions: Consumer Economics; Health, Education and Training, Welfare, and Poverty

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