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What Do You Think Would Make You Happier? What Do You Think You Would Choose?

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Author Info

  • Daniel J. Benjamin
  • Ori Heffetz
  • Miles S. Kimball
  • Alex Rees-Jones

Abstract

Would people choose what they think would maximize their subjective well-being (SWB)? We present survey respondents with hypothetical scenarios and elicit both choice and predicted SWB rankings of two alternatives. While choice and predicted SWB rankings usually coincide in our data, we find systematic reversals. We identify factors--such as predicted sense of purpose, control over one's life, family happiness, and social status--that help explain hypothetical choice controlling for predicted SWB. We explore how our findings vary by SWB measure and by scenario. Our results have implications regarding the use of SWB survey questions as a proxy for utility. (JEL D03, I31)

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 102 (2012)
Issue (Month): 5 (August)
Pages: 2083-2110

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:102:y:2012:i:5:p:2083-2110

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  1. Rafael Di Tella & Robert J. MacCulloch & Andrew J. Oswald, 2003. "The Macroeconomics of Happiness," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 809-827, November.
  2. M. Fleurbaey., 2012. "Beyond GDP: The Quest for a Measure of Social Welfare," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 2.
  3. Laibson, David, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-77, May.
  4. Finkelstein, Amy & Luttmer, Erzo F. P. & Notowidigdo, Matthew J., 2008. "What Good Is Wealth without Health? The Effect of Health on the Marginal Utility of Consumption," Working Paper Series rwp08-036, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  5. Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2005. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 120(3), pages 963-1002, August.
  6. Stevenson, Betsey & Wolfers, Justin, 2009. "The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 7311, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Loewenstein, George & O'Donoghue, Ted & Rabin, Matthew, 2000. "Projection Bias in Predicting Future Utility," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley qt5qh6142m, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  8. Kahneman, Daniel & Wakker, Peter P & Sarin, Rakesh, 1997. "Back to Bentham? Explorations of Experienced Utility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 375-405, May.
  9. Luechinger, Simon & Raschky, Paul A., 2009. "Valuing flood disasters using the life satisfaction approach," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(3-4), pages 620-633, April.
  10. Bruno Frey & Simon Luechinger & Alois Stutzer, 2009. "The life satisfaction approach to valuing public goods: The case of terrorism," Public Choice, Springer, Springer, vol. 138(3), pages 317-345, March.
  11. Easterlin, Richard A., 1995. "Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 35-47, June.
  12. Loewenstein, George & Ubel, Peter A., 2008. "Hedonic adaptation and the role of decision and experience utility in public policy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(8-9), pages 1795-1810, August.
  13. Daniel J. Benjamin & Ori Heffetz & Miles S. Kimball & Alex Rees-Jones, 2010. "Do People Seek to Maximize Happiness? Evidence from New Surveys," NBER Working Papers 16489, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Some links on eudaimonic well-being
    by Liam Delaney in Economics and Psychology Research on 2013-02-11 19:40:00
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Cited by:
  1. Daniel J. Benjamin & Ori Heffetz & Miles S. Kimball & Nichole Szembrot, 2013. "Aggregating Local Preferences to Guide Marginal Policy Adjustments," NBER Working Papers 18787, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Daniel J. Benjamin & Ori Heffetz & Miles S. Kimball & Alex Rees-Jones, 2013. "Can Marginal Rates of Substitution Be Inferred from Happiness Data? Evidence from Residency Choices," NBER Working Papers 18927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Wunder, Christoph & Heineck, Guido, 2013. "Working time preferences, hours mismatch and well-being of couples: Are there spillovers?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 244-252.
  4. Hammond, Peter J & Liberini, Federica & Proto, Eugenio, 2013. "Do Happier Britons Have More Income? First-Order Stochastic Dominance Relations," CAGE Online Working Paper Series, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE) 166, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  5. Cheng, Terence C & Powdthavee, Nattavudh & Oswald, Andrew J, 2014. "Longitudinal Evidence for a Midlife Nadir in Human Wellbeing: Results from Four Data Sets," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1037, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  6. Liberini, Federica & Redoano, Michela & Proto, Eugenio, 2013. "Happy Voters," CAGE Online Working Paper Series, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE) 169, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  7. Santi Budria & Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell, 2013. "Income Comparisons and Non-Cognitive Skills," Working Papers 733, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  8. Lohmann, Steffen, 2013. "Information technologies and subjective well-being: Does the internet raise material aspirations?," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79708, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  9. Oswald, Andrew J. & Proto, Eugenio & Sgroi, Daniel, 2008. "Happiness and Productivity," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 882, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  10. Dorsett, Richard & Oswald, Andrew J., 2014. "Human Well-being and In-Work Benefits: A Randomized Controlled Trial," IZA Discussion Papers 7943, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Inga Hillesheim & Mario Mechtel, 2012. "How Much Do Others Matter? Explaining Positional Concerns for Different Goods and Personal Characteristics," IAAEU Discussion Papers, Institute of Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the European Union (IAAEU) 201210, Institute of Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the European Union (IAAEU).
  12. Filipe R. Campante & David H. Yanagizawa-Drott, 2013. "Does Religion Affect Economic Growth and Happiness? Evidence from Ramadan," NBER Working Papers 19768, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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