2.14          ndian     onom
              people in a heartbeat. Yet all is not well.                have remained essentially unchanged
              The conditions of affluence have created                   over the half-century. The increased US
              their own set of traps.                                    output has caused massive environmental
                  Most importantly, the lifestyles of                    damages, notably through greenhouse
              the rich imperil the survival of the poor.                 gas concentrations and human-induced
              Human-induced climate change is                            climate change, without doing much
              already hitting the poorest regions and                    at all to raise the well-being even of
              claiming lives and livelihoods. It is telling              Americans. Thus, we don’t have a trade
              that in much of the rich world, affluent                   off between short-run gains to well-being
              populations are so separated from the poor                 versus long-run costs to the environment;
              that there is little recognition, practical                we have a pure loss to the environment
              or moral, of the adverse spillovers (or                    without offsetting short-term gains.
              ‘externalities’) from their own behaviour.                    The paradox that Easterlin noted in
        (v) Affluence has also created its own set of                    the US was that at any particular time
              afflictions and addictions (problems)—                     richer individuals are happier than poorer
              obesity, adult-onset diabetes, tobacco-                    ones, but over time the society did not
              related illnesses, eating disorders such                   become happier as it became richer. This
              as anorexia and bulimia, psychosocial                      is due to four reasons:
              disorders, and addictions to shopping,                     (a) Individuals compare themselves to
              TV and gambling, are all examples                              others. They are happier when they
              of disorders of development. So too                            are higher on the social (or income)
              is the loss of community, the decline                          ladder. Yet when everybody rises
              of social trust and the rising anxiety                         together, relative status remains
              levels associated with the vagaries of the                     unchanged.
              modern globalised economy, including
                                                                         (b) The gains have not been evenly shared,
              the threats of unemployment or episodes
                                                                             but have gone disproportionately to
              of illness not covered by health insurance
                                                                             those at the top of the income and
              in the United States (and many other
                                                                             education distribution.
              countries).
                                                                         (c) The other societal factors—insecurity,
       (vi) Higher average incomes do not
                                                                             loss of social trust, declining
              necessarily improve average well-being,
                                                                             confidence in government—have
              the US being a clear case in point, as
                                                                             counteracted any benefits felt from
              noted famously by Professor Richard
                                                                             higher incomes.
              Easterlin18—where GNP per capita has
              risen by a factor of three since 1960,                     (d) Individuals may experience an initial
              while measures of average happiness                            jump in happiness when their income
                                                                             rises, but then at least partly return
      18.  Among the foremost contributors to the Happiness                  to earlier levels as they adapt to their
           Economics, Easterlin is particularly known for his 1974
           article ‘Does Economic Growth Improve the Human
                                                                             new higher income.
           Lot? Some Empirical Evidence’ (his ideas are today      (vii) These phenomena put a clear limit on
           known as the Easterlin Paradox, was proposed by               the extent to which rich countries can
           him in this article). Here he concluded that contrary
           to expectation, happiness at a national level does not        become happier through the simple
           increase with wealth once asic needs are fulfilled.           device of economic growth. In fact, there