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Hedonic Capital

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Author Info

  • Graham, Liam

    ()
    (University College London)

  • Oswald, Andrew J.

    ()
    (University of Warwick)

Abstract

This paper proposes a new way to think about happiness. It distinguishes between stocks and flows. Central to the analysis is a concept we call ‘hedonic capital’. The paper sets out a model of the dynamics of wellbeing in which bad life-shocks are smoothed by the drawing down of hedonic capital. The model fits the patterns found in the empirical literature: the existence of a stable level of wellbeing and a tendency to return gradually towards that level. It offers a theory of hedonic adaptation.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2079.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2079

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Web page: http://www.iza.org

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Postal: IZA, Margard Ody, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
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Keywords: adaptation; wellbeing; evolution; happiness; habituation;

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References

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  1. Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert J. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "The Macroeconomics of Happiness," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 615, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  2. Arthur J. Robson, 2001. "The Biological Basis of Economic Behavior," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(1), pages 11-33, March.
  3. Erzo F.P. Luttmer, 2004. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 10667, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. George A. Akerlof, 1997. "Social Distance and Social Decisions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(5), pages 1005-1028, September.
  5. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2001. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," CESifo Working Paper Series 503, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Jonathan Gardner & Andrew J. Oswald, 2006. "Do divorcing couples become happier by breaking up?," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 169(2), pages 319-336.
  7. Alpizar, Francisco & Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2005. "How much do we care about absolute versus relative income and consumption?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 405-421, March.
  8. Ed Hopkins & Tatiana Kornienko, 2004. "Running to Keep in the Same Place: Consumer Choice as a Game of Status," ESE Discussion Papers 92, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  9. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-59, May.
  10. Wilson, Chris M & Oswald, Andrew J, 2005. "How Does Marriage Affect Physical and Psychological Health? A Survey of the Longitudinal Evidence," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 728, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  11. Easterlin, Richard A., 2005. "A puzzle for adaptive theory," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 513-521, April.
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  14. Oswald, Andrew, 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 478, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
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  18. Kahneman, Daniel & Wakker, Peter P & Sarin, Rakesh, 1997. "Back to Bentham? Explorations of Experienced Utility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 375-405, May.
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  22. 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.
  23. Christopher D. Carroll, 2001. "A Theory of the Consumption Function, With and Without Liquidity Constraints (Expanded Version)," NBER Working Papers 8387, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Bruno S. Frey & Stephan Meier, . "Social Comparisons and Pro-social Behavior - Testing ‘Conditional Cooperation’ in a Field Experiment," IEW - Working Papers 162, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  25. 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.
  26. Alois Stutzer, . "The Role of Income Aspirations in Individual Happiness," IEW - Working Papers 124, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  27. Clark, Andrew E., 1999. "Are wages habit-forming? evidence from micro data," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 179-200, June.
  28. Rafael Di Tella & John Haisken-De New & Robert MacCulloch, 2007. "Happiness Adaptation to Income and to Status in an Individual Panel," NBER Working Papers 13159, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  29. Menzel, Paul & Dolan, Paul & Richardson, Jeff & Olsen, Jan Abel, 2002. "The role of adaptation to disability and disease in health state valuation: a preliminary normative analysis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 55(12), pages 2149-2158, December.
  30. Wu, Stephen, 2001. "Adapting to heart conditions: a test of the hedonic treadmill," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 495-507, July.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Nattavudh Powdthavee, 2012. "Resilience to economic shocks and the long reach of childhood bullying," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 51520, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Konow, James & Earley, Joseph, 2008. "The Hedonistic Paradox: Is homo economicus happier," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1-2), pages 1-33, February.
  3. Senik, Claudia, 2008. "Is man doomed to progress?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 140-152, October.
  4. Francesco Ferrante, 2009. "Education, Aspirations and Life Satisfaction," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(4), pages 542-562, November.
  5. Frijters, Paul & Johnston, David W. & Shields, Michael A., 2008. "Happiness Dynamics with Quarterly Life Event Data," IZA Discussion Papers 3604, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2006. "Income and happiness: Evidence, explanations and economic implications," Working Papers halshs-00590436, HAL.
  7. Stutzer, Alois & Frey, Bruno S., 2012. "Recent Developments in the Economics of Happiness: A Selective Overview," IZA Discussion Papers 7078, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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