Richard Easterlin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Richard A. Easterlin
Born (1926-01-12) 12 January 1926 (age 92)
Ridgefield Park, New Jersey, United States
Nationality American
Institution University of Pennsylvania
University of Southern California
Field Demography, Economic history, Economic growth, Happiness economics
Alma mater Stevens Institute of Technology
University of Pennsylvania (M.A., Ph.D.)
Simon Kuznets
Influences Dorothy Thomas
Contributions Easterlin hypothesis, Easterlin paradox, Happiness economics

Richard Ainley Easterlin (born 12 January 1926)[1] is a professor of economics at the University of Southern California. He is best known for the economic theory named after him, the Easterlin paradox.

Early life and education[edit]

Easterlin was born in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey in 1926. He studied engineering at the Stevens Institute of Technology and graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering with Distinction in 1945. He then completed an MA in Economics in 1949 and his Ph.D. in Economics in 1953 both at the University of Pennsylvania.[1]

He became interested in demography and population studies through his participation as a Research Associate from 1953 to 1955 in the landmark Study of population Redistribution and Economic Growth in the United States conducted by Simon Kuznets and Dorothy Thomas.

Academic career[edit]

Whilst completing his postgraduate studies, Easterlin worked as Instructor from 1948 to 1953 at the University of Pennsylvania. After completing his Doctor of Philosophy he became an Assistant Professor of Economics from 1953 to 1956. He was also a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research from 1955 to 1956. From 1956 to 1960 he was an Associate Professor of Economics and also a Visiting Professor at Stanford University in 1960 to 1961. From 1956 to 1966 he was also a Member of the Research Staff National Bureau of Economic Research. He was then a full Professor of Economics from 1960 to 1978 and was the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor in Economics at the University of Pennsylvania from 1978 to 1982.

Whilst at the University of Pennsylvania, Easterlin served as the Chairman of the Department of Economics from 1958 to 1960, from 1961 to 1962 and in 1965 and 1968. He was also the Associate Dean for Budget and Planning of the University of Pennsylvania Faculty of Arts and Sciences from 1974 to 1979. He then moved to the University of Southern California in 1982 as a Professor of Economics and then University Professor since 1999.


Easterlin is in particular known for his 1974 article "Does Economic Growth Improve the Human Lot? Some Empirical Evidence" and the Easterlin paradox which he argued that contrary to expectation, happiness at a national level does not increase with income over time. He is also known for the Easterlin hypothesis, which states that the relationship between income and fertility is dependent on relative income (income relative to aspirations).[citation needed]


He was a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences from 1970 to 1971, was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1978, was the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Scholar at the California Institute of Technology from 1980 to 1981, was elected a Fellow of the Econometric Society in 1983, was awarded the Burlington Northern Faculty Achievement Award at the University of Southern California in 1987, was appointed to the Board of Directors as the Representative of the Economic History Association to the National Bureau of Economic Research from 1986 to 1997, was awarded the Raubenheimer Award for Teaching and Research at the University of Southern California in 1988, was selected as a Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation from 1988 to 1989, was awarded the Irene B. Taeuber Award by the Population Association of America in 1993, received an Honorary Doctorate from Lund University in Sweden in 1998, was elected as a Member of the United States National Academy of Sciences, was awarded the Mellon Award for Excellence in Mentoring by the Center for Excellence in Teaching at the University of Southern California in 2006, was awarded the Distinguished Researcher Award by the International Society for Quality of Life Studies in 2006, was elected a Distinguished Fellow of the American Economic Association in 2006, was awarded the IZA Prize in Labor Economics from the Institute for the Study of Labor in 2009, and received the Laureate Award from the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population in 2010.[2]


  1. ^ a b Richard A. Easterlin, Population Association of America. Accessed November 15, 2017. "Richard Easterlin was born in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey, in 1926 and studied engineering at the Stevens Institute of Technology, where he earned an ME degree with distinction in 1945."
  2. ^ [1] University of Southern California profile of Richard A. Easterlin

External links[edit]