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Should National Happiness be Maximized?

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  • Bruno S. Frey
  • Alois Stutzer

Abstract

Cross-disciplinary ?happiness research? has made big progress in the measurement of individual welfare. This development makes it tempting to pursue the old dream of maximizing aggregate happiness as a social welfare function. However, we postulate that the appropriate approach is not to maximize aggregate happiness in seeking to improve outcomes by direct policy interventions. The goal of happiness research should rather be to improve the nature of the processes through which individuals can express their preferences. Individuals should become better able to advance their idea of the good life, both individually and collectively.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA) in its series CREMA Working Paper Series with number 2006-26.

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Date of creation: Oct 2006
Date of revision: Mar 2007
Handle: RePEc:cra:wpaper:2006-26

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Keywords: Economic policy; happiness; life satisfaction; political economy; social welfare; utility;

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References

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  1. Andrew Leigh & Justin Wolfers, 2005. "Happiness and the Human Development Index: Australia is Not a Paradox," CEPR Discussion Papers 505, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  2. 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.
  3. Schelling, Thomas C, 1978. "Egonomics, or the Art of Self-Management," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(2), pages 290-94, May.
  4. 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, vol. 91(1), pages 335-341, March.
  5. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2005. "Happiness and the Human Development Index: The Paradox of Australia," NBER Working Papers 11416, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Stutzer, Alois, 2004. "The role of income aspirations in individual happiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 89-109, May.
  7. Oswald, Andrew J. & Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2006. "Does Happiness Adapt? A Longitudinal Study of Disability with Implications for Economists and Judges," IZA Discussion Papers 2208, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. von Hagen, Jürgen & Wolff, Guntram B., 2004. "What do deficits tell us about debt? Empirical evidence on creative accounting with fiscal rules in the EU," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2004,38, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
  9. Dafflon, Bernard & Rossi, Sergio, 1999. " Public Accounting Fudges towards EMU: A First Empirical Survey and Some Public Choice Considerations," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 101(1-2), pages 59-84, October.
  10. Oswald, A.J., 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," Papers 18, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics.
  11. J.J. Ehrhardt & W.E. Saris & R. Veenhoven, 2000. "Stability of Life-satisfaction over Time," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 177-205, June.
  12. Silvia Pezzini, 2005. "The Effect of Women's Rights on Women's Welfare: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(502), pages C208-C227, 03.
  13. Bruno S. Frey & Simon Luechinger & Alois Stutzer, . "Valuing Public Goods: The Life Satisfaction Approach," IEW - Working Papers 184, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
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Cited by:
  1. SARRACINO Francesco, 2011. "Money, sociability and happiness : are developed countries doomed to social erosion and unhappiness?," CEPS/INSTEAD Working Paper Series 2011-02, CEPS/INSTEAD.
  2. Corrado, L. & Weeks, M., 2010. "Identification Strategies in Survey Response Using Vignettes," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1031, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  3. Sonja C. Kassenböhmer & Christoph M. Schmidt, 2011. "Beyond GDP and Back: What Is the Value-Added by Additional Components of Welfare Measurement?," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 351, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  4. SARRACINO Francesco, 2011. "Richer in money, poorer in relationship and unhappy? Time series comparisons of social capital and well-being in Luxembourg," CEPS/INSTEAD Working Paper Series 2011-01, CEPS/INSTEAD.
  5. Andrew E. Clark & Claudia Senik, 2010. "Will GDP growth increase happiness in developing countries?," Working Papers halshs-00564985, HAL.

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