The world's a confusing place. The thesis that general happiness and/or well-being isn't positively correlated with levels of income and wealth has always puzzled me; it goes against what you'd expect on the basis of the obvious ways in which poverty hurts people. Anyway, I've expressed my scepticism about the thesis before, but I did this in the face of research apparently showing that the thesis was true. Allister Heath rounds up some studies to the contrary:
One especially brilliant piece of research - by Daniel Sacks, Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, all US academics - demonstrates that happiness improves as incomes rise. The paper shows that richer citizens report higher well-being than their poorer compatriots, at any given point as well as over time; that people in richer countries are happier than those in poorer countries; and that GDP growth boosts well-being. Most remarkably of all, there is no maximum wealth threshold at which point higher incomes cease to boost well-being: quite simply, the richer, the better, with no upper limit.
These findings are confirmed by an excellent paper from Ruut Veenhoven and Floris Vergunst. Using statistics compiled as part of the World Database of Happiness (yes, there is such a thing), they discover a positive relationship between GDP growth and improving happiness. GDP and happiness have gone up in most countries, and average happiness has risen more in nations where the economy has grown the most.
I'm not in any position to assess these competing claims, and Heath has an anti-left axe to grind in the way he presents the above material that is not of interest to me. But I do believe one should treat with caution hypotheses minimizing the dependence of general well-being on adequate material and other provision.