Adaptation and loss aversion in the relationship between GDP and subjective well-being

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1 Citation (Scopus)


We examine the roles of macro-level adaptation - including social comparison effects becoming more important over time - and macroeconomic loss aversion in the time-series relationship between national income and subjective well-being. Models allowing for these phenomena are applied to crosscountry panel data. We find evidence for macroeconomic loss aversion that becomes more important over time: the effects of economic growth become small and statistically insignificant in the long run, whereas the effects of contractions are large and long-lasting. The results are consistent with the Easterlin paradox and point to it being explained by macro-level adaptation to economic growth. Our results highlight the importance of allowing for both dynamics to distinguish longrun from short-run effects and asymmetries to recognize the important effects of contractions. Failing to do the former leads to a misleading impression of the longrun relationship between economic growth and well-being.

Original languageEnglish
JournalB.E. Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Adaptation
  • GDP
  • Life satisfaction
  • Loss aversion
  • Subjective well-being

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


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