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This evening, I was listening to this old episode of EconTalk (a), wherein Richard Epstein discusses income, wealth, and happiness:

Theory of revealed preferences. We see people working hard to get raises. The happiness literature suggests that everyone is under a deep delusion about what makes them happy, and the guys running the survey know better.
Methodological fallacy: data seem to suggest that when you have higher incomes you don't necessarily have a whole lot higher level of happiness... People make a pact – I'll be miserable for a few years if you'll make me rich in the longer run.
So, in the short run they report being less happy. They don't want to be unhappy forever, so eventually they'll take a lower paying job – and report being happier.

This consideration – people with intense, high-paying jobs being less happy when surveyed but (knowingly) doing this for increased future happiness – seems important when thinking about the happiness<>income relationship. We totally overlooked it in the recent Forum post.

Does anyone know of longitudinal studies that look at happiness of people over time, as they move into and out of high-intensity jobs?

I'd like to learn more about this.

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2 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 2:44 AM

I'd also expect people to do a thing of taking high-paying jobs with the expectation that it benefits their children more than their own happiness. I don't know if there's evidence on that.

That definitely matches my intuition too.