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Perspectives from the Happiness Literature and the Role of New Instruments for Policy Analysis

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  • Bernard M.S. van Praag

Abstract

After having been ignored for a long time by economists, happiness is becoming an object of serious research in 21st century economics. In Section 2 we sketch the present status of happiness economics. In Section 3 we consider the practical applicability of happiness economics, retaining the assumption of ordinal individual utilities. In Section 4 we introduce a cardinal utility concept, which seems to us the natural consequence of the happiness economics methodology. In Section 5 we sketch how this approach can lead to a normative approach to policy problems that is admissible from a positivist point of view. Section 6 concludes.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 1912.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_1912

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Keywords: happiness economics; subjective well-being; equivalence scales; economic policy;

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References

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  1. Bernard M.S. van Praag & Barbara E. Baarsma, 2004. "Using Happiness Surveys to Value Intangibles: The Case of Airport Noise," CESifo Working Paper Series 1163, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, . "What can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," IEW - Working Papers 080, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  3. Boes, Stefan & Lipp, Markus & Winkelmann, Rainer, 2007. "Money illusion under test," Economics Letters, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 94(3), pages 332-337, March.
  4. Bruno S. Frey & Simon Luechinger & Alois Stutzer, 2007. "Calculating Tragedy: Assessing The Costs Of Terrorism," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(1), pages 1-24, 02.
  5. 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.
  6. Goedhart, T. & Halberstadt, V. & Praag, B.M.S. van & Kapteyn, A.J., 1977. "The poverty line: Concept and measurement," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-361898, Tilburg University.
  7. Robert J. MacCulloch & Rafael Di Tella & Andrew J. Oswald, 2001. "Preferences over Inflation and Unemployment: Evidence from Surveys of Happiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 335-341, March.
  8. Bernard M. S. van Praag & Nico L. van der Sar, 1988. "Household Cost Functions and Equivalence Scales," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 23(2), pages 193-210.
  9. Kapteyn, Arie & Van Praag, Bernard, 1978. "A new approach to the construction of family equivalence scales," European Economic Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 313-335, May.
  10. Luttmer, Erzo F. P., 2004. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," Working Paper Series, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government rwp04-029, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  11. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-59, May.
  12. Bernard M. S. van Praag & P. Frijters & Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell, 2001. "The Anatomy of Subjective Well-Being," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 265, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  13. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2000. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," NBER Working Papers 7487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Claudia Senik, 2005. "Income distribution and well-being: what can we learn from subjective data?," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(1), pages 43-63, 02.
  15. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2006. "Income and happiness: Evidence, explanations and economic implications," PSE Working Papers halshs-00590436, HAL.
  16. Frey, Bruno S & Stutzer, Alois, 2000. "Happiness, Economy and Institutions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(466), pages 918-38, October.
  17. Kapteyn, Arie & Van Herwaarden, Floor G., 1980. "Interdependent welfare functions and optimal income distribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 375-397, December.
  18. Bernard M.S. van Praag & Paul Frijters, 1999. "The measurement of welfare and well-being; the Leyden approach," School of Economics and Finance Discussion Papers and Working Papers Series, School of Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology 071a, School of Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology.
  19. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Bernard M. S. van Praag, 2001. "The Subjective Costs of Health Losses Due to Chronic Diseases: An Alternative Model for Monetary Appraisal," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 262, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  20. Kapteyn, A.J., 1977. "A theory of preference formation," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-364727, Tilburg University.
  21. Van Praag, Bernard M.S. & Warnaar, Marcel F., 1993. "The cost of children and the use of demographic variables in consumer demand," Handbook of Population and Family Economics, Elsevier, in: M. R. Rosenzweig & Stark, O. (ed.), Handbook of Population and Family Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 6, pages 241-273 Elsevier.
  22. Praag, B.M.S. van & Herwaarden, F.G. van & Kapteyn, A.J., 1979. "The definition and measurement of social reference spaces," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-361904, Tilburg University.
  23. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2002. "How important is Methodology for the Estimates of the Determinants of Happiness?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 02-024/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  24. Van Praag, Bernard, 1971. "The welfare function of income in Belgium: An empirical investigation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 337-369.
  25. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J. & Warr, Peter B., 1994. "Is job satisfaction u-shaped in age ?," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9407, CEPREMAP.
  26. Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2006. "Some Uses of Happiness Data in Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 25-46, Winter.
  27. Van Praag, B.M.S., 1989. "The Relativity of the Welfare Concept," Research Paper, World Institute for Development Economics Research 69, World Institute for Development Economics Research.
  28. Daniel Kahneman & Alan B. Krueger & David Schkade & Norbert Schwarz & Arthur Stone, 2004. "Toward National Well-Being Accounts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 429-434, May.
  29. Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada, 2005. "Income and well-being: an empirical analysis of the comparison income effect," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 997-1019, June.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Bonsang, Eric & Klein, Tobias J., 2012. "Retirement and subjective well-being," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 83(3), pages 311-329.
  2. Leonardo Becchetti & Elena Giachin Ricca & Alessandra Pelloni, 2013. "The Paradox of Children and Life Satisfaction," Social Indicators Research, Springer, Springer, vol. 111(3), pages 725-751, May.
  3. Anna Maffioletti & Agata Maida & Francesco Scacciati, 2013. "Survey Design and Response Analysis: a Study on Happiness, Life Satisfaction and Well-being in Piedmont, a Region of Italy," LABORatorio R. Revelli Working Papers Series 131, LABORatorio R. Revelli, Centre for Employment Studies.
  4. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00707290 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Leonardo Becchetti & Riccardo Massari & Paolo Naticchioni, 2011. "The drivers of happiness inequality: Suggestions for promoting social cohesion," Working Papers, Universita' di Cassino, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche 2011-06, Universita' di Cassino, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche.
  6. Leonardo Becchetti & Elena Giachin Ricca & Alessandra Pelloni, 2009. "Children, happiness and taxation," Econometica Working Papers, Econometica wp12, Econometica.
  7. Andrew E. Clark & Sarah Flèche & Claudia Senik, 2012. "The Great Happiness Moderation," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 468, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  8. Van Ootegem, Luc & Spillemaeckers, Sophie, 2010. "With a focus on well-being and capabilities," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 384-390, June.

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