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Evidence based pursuit of happiness: What should we know, do we know and can we get to know?

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  • Veenhoven, Ruut

Abstract

The rational pursuit of happiness requires knowledge of happiness and in particular answers to the following four questions: 1: Is greater happiness realistically possible? 2: If so, to what extent is that in our own hands? 3: How can we get happier? What things should be considered in the choices we make? 4: How does the pursuit of happiness fit with other things we value? Answers to these questions are not only sought by individuals who want to improve their personal life, they are also on the mind of managers concerned about the happiness of members of their organization and of governments aiming to promote greater happiness of a greater number of citizens. All these actors might make more informed choices if they could draw on a sound base of evidence. In this paper I take stock of the available evidence and the answers it holds for the four types of questions asked by the three kinds of actors. To do this, I use a large collection of research findings on happiness gathered in the World Database of Happiness. The data provide good answers to the questions 1 and 2, but fall short on the questions 3 and 4. Priorities for further research are indicated.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 41924.

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Date of creation: 01 Jun 2012
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:41924

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Keywords: happiness economics; life-satisfaction; research synthesis; utilitarianism;

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  1. Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1997. "A Case for Happiness, Cardinalism, and Interpersonal Comparability," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1848-58, November.
  2. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2009. "The paradox of declining female happiness," Working Paper Series, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco 2009-11, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  3. Heidi Lepper, 1998. "Use of Other-Reports to Validate Subjective Well-Being Measures," Social Indicators Research, Springer, Springer, vol. 44(3), pages 367-379, July.
  4. J. Ott, 2011. "Government and Happiness in 130 Nations: Good Governance Fosters Higher Level and More Equality of Happiness," Social Indicators Research, Springer, Springer, vol. 102(1), pages 3-22, May.
  5. Daniel Kahneman & Richard H. Thaler, 2006. "Anomalies: Utility Maximization and Experienced Utility," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 221-234, Winter.
  6. R. Veenhoven, 2008. "Healthy happiness: effects of happiness on physical health and the consequences for preventive health care," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 449-469, September.
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  1. Happiness, & statistical fetishism
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2012-10-31 13:27:56

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