June 1, 2007
Is affluence a good thing? The book The Challenge of Affluence by Avner Offer (2006) argues that economic prosperity weakens self-control and undermines human well-being. Consistent with a pessimistic view, we show that psychological distress has been rising through time in modern Great Britain. Taking over-eating as an example, our data reveal that half the British population view themselves as overweight, and that happiness and mental health are worse among fatter people in Britain and Germany. Comparisons also matter. We discuss problems of inference and argue that longitudinal data are needed. We suggest a theory of obesity imitation where utility depends on relative weight.
Volume: 117 (521):441-454
Albert Sloman Library Periodicals *restricted to Univ. Essex registered users*