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Comparing Interpersonal Comparisons in Utility Theory and Happiness Research

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  • Stefan Mann

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Abstract

Social scientists are reluctant to make explicit interpersonal comparisons of well-being. However, implicit comparisons are made on a surprisingly regular basis. These comparisons are based on the wealth and the Kaldor--Hicks concept in utility theory and on self-reported well-being in happiness research. Taking a utilitarian stance, this paper tests the ethical foundations of both principles. While self-reported well-being serves as an acceptable proxy for utilitarian decision-making, the Kaldor--Hicks concept does not appear so. Implications for evaluating policies are outlined.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s12143-007-0003-1
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Forum for Social Economics.

Volume (Year): 36 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (April)
Pages: 29-42

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Handle: RePEc:spr:fosoec:v:36:y:2007:i:1:p:29-42

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Web page: http://www.springer.com/economics/journal/12143

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Related research

Keywords: Quality of life; Utilitarianism; Equality; Pareto principle;

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References

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  1. Tim Kasser & Kennon Sheldon, 2002. "What Makes for a Merry Christmas?," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 3(4), pages 313-329, December.
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  8. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-84, July.
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  10. 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.
  11. Paolo Liberati, 2001. "The Distributional Effects of Indirect Tax Changes in Italy," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 8(1), pages 27-51, January.
  12. Edi Karni, 2003. "Impartiality and interpersonal comparisons of variations in well-being," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 21(1), pages 95-111, 08.
  13. Kaplow, Louis & Shavell, Steven, 1999. "The Conflict between Notions of Fairness and the Pareto Principle," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(1-2), pages 63-77, Fall.
  14. Fisher, Franklin M, 1987. "Household Equivalence Scales and Interpersonal Comparisons," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(3), pages 519-24, July.
  15. Nick Hanley & Clive Spash & Lorna Walker, 1995. "Problems in valuing the benefits of biodiversity protection," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 5(3), pages 249-272, April.
  16. Krutilla, John V., 1981. "Reflections of an applied welfare economist : Presidential Address Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists September 6, 1980, Denver, Colorado," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 1-10, March.
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  18. Joar Vittersø, 2004. "Subjective Well-Being versus Self-Actualization: Using the Flow-Simplex to Promote a Conceptual Clarification of Subjective Quality of Life," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 65(3), pages 299-331, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Stefan, Mann, 2012. "Does brain research provide a case for the transfer of public monies to the arts?," MPRA Paper 39410, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. repec:pra:mprapa:39404 is not listed on IDEAS

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