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Hope, Health and Happiness

Carol Graham

We live in increasingly polarized and unequal societies, not only when it comes to incomes and opportunities but also in terms of how people feel about their lives. Why do economists and other social scientists care about how people feel? Feelings of subjective well-being, such as happiness and life satisfaction, are important metrics in these disciplines because they predict health, productivity, and labor market outcomes. But what about other aspects of feelings and emotions? Are hope and optimism novel subjective well-being dimensions? How do we credibly measure them? And can they predict the so-called “deaths of despair” and premature mortality in the United States and other countries? Carol Graham discusses the potential of novel well-being metrics in tracking and serving as warning indicators of despair in the U.S. and beyond.

Carol Graham is the Leo Pasvolsky Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, College Park Professor at the University of Maryland, and a Senior Scientist at Gallup. She is one of the pioneers of the field of the economics of happiness. Carol’s recent work focuses on inequalities of well-being, optimism, and hope. In addition to numerous academic articles in leading academic journals, Carol has eight single-authored books. The most recent book is Happiness for All? Unequal Lives and Hopes in Pursuit of the American Dream (Princeton, 2017). She is the recipient of two pioneer awards from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (2017, 2021) and a distinguished Lifetime Scholar award from the International Society for Quality of Life Studies in 2018. She served on a National Academy of Sciences Panel on well-being metrics and policy in 2012-13 and has advised several governments on the inclusion of the metrics in policy design and evaluation.

In collaboration with Young Academy Groningen.

About the Young Academy Groningen
The Young Academy Groningen is a group of talented, enthusiastic and ambitious young researchers from diverse disciplines at the University of Groningen and UMCG. Our members share a passion for science and scholarship and its broader impacts on academia and society.

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