Publication Details

Barker, C. J. and Martin, B. (2012). Income and happiness: why isn't research acted upon?. Social Alternatives, 31 (4), 62-67.

Additional Publication Information

Social Alternatives is an independent, quarterly refereed journal which aims to promote public debate, commentary and dialogue about contemporary social, political, economic and environmental issues.


According to extensive research, greater income - above a basic minimum - has a relatively small impact on happiness. This finding has radical implications for individuals, groups and societies, yet is seldom considered in decision-making. We explore the reasons why the social and political implications of this research are not acted upon. We outline five arenas with potential obstacles to personal and institutional change responding to happiness-income research: lack of information; denigration of alternatives; contrary arguments; lack of authoritative endorsement; and structural conditions. Understanding the obstacles provides some guidance for efforts towards alternatives to the dominant economic model.