individual A is better off than individual B

"John Hicks gave a lecture at Columbia in 1946," Arrow recalled. "He had wanted a definition: what do you mean by saying individual A is better off than individual B?" This deceptively simple question was a vexing problem for economists. Who's better off, a $50-an-hour oil field worker compelled to live on a rig in the North Sea, or a worker living a more normal life in Houston, at half the salary?
Does the 'better off ' here have the both meaning of 'richer'and 'better' , so the question was deceptive? Am i right? many thanks.
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    "Better off" in your example roughly means "happier" or "more content". As you have pointed out, it usually refers to wealth. Here, though, the economist is using it for "happier".

    PS If you have to measure things as economists do, I suppose "total amount of satisfaction in life" would be what John Hicks was talking about.
     
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