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Happiness Research and Cost-Benefit Analysis

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  • Adler, Matthew D.
  • Posner, Eric A.
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    Abstract

    A growing body of research on happiness or subjective well-being (SWB) shows, among other things, that people adapt to many injuries more rapidly than is commonly thought, fail to predict the degree of adaptation and hence overestimate the impact of those injuries on their SWB, and, similarly, enjoy small or moderate rather than significant changes in SWB in response to significant changes in income. Some researchers believe that these findings pose a challenge to cost-benefit analysis, and argue that project evaluation decision-procedures based on economic premises should be replaced with procedures that directly maximize subjective well-being. This view turns out to be wrong or, at best, premature. Cost-benefit analysis remains a viable decision-procedure. However, some of the findings in the happiness literature can be used to generate valuations for cost-benefit analysis where current approaches have proven inadequate.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Regulation2point0 in its series Working paper with number 558.

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    Date of creation: Mar 2008
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    Handle: RePEc:reg:wpaper:558

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    1. Katrin Rehdanz & David J. Maddison, 2003. "Climate and Happiness," Working Papers FNU-20, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Apr 2003.
    2. Welsch, Heinz, 2006. "Environment and happiness: Valuation of air pollution using life satisfaction data," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(4), pages 801-813, July.
    3. 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.
    4. Alkire, Sabina, 2005. "Valuing Freedoms: Sen's Capability Approach and Poverty Reduction," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199283316.
    5. Oswald, Andrew J. & Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2008. "Does happiness adapt? A longitudinal study of disability with implications for economists and judges," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1061-1077, June.
    6. Welsch, Heinz, 2002. "Preferences over Prosperity and Pollution: Environmental Valuation Based on Happiness Surveys," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(4), pages 473-94.
    7. Kaplow, Louis & Shavell, Steven, 2000. "Should Legal Rules Favor the Poor? Clarifying the Role of Legal Rules and the Income Tax in Redistributing Income," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(2), pages 821-35, June.
    8. Daniel Kahneman & Robert Sugden, 2005. "Experienced Utility as a Standard of Policy Evaluation," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 32(1), pages 161-181, 09.
    9. Gardner, Jonathan & Oswald, Andrew J., 2006. "Money and Mental Wellbeing: A Longitudinal Study of Medium-Sized Lottery Wins," IZA Discussion Papers 2233, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. van Praag, Bernard M. S. & Baarsma, Barbara E., 2004. "Using Happiness Surveys to Value Intangibles: The Case of Airport Noise," IZA Discussion Papers 1096, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    11. Di Tella, Rafael & Haisken-De New, John & MacCulloch, Robert, 2010. "Happiness adaptation to income and to status in an individual panel," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 834-852, December.
    12. Thomas J. Kniesner & W. Kip Viscusi, 2005. "Value of a Statistical Life: Relative Position vs. Relative Age," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 142-146, May.
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    Cited by:
    1. Dorsett, Richard & Oswald, Andrew J., 2014. "Human well-being and in-work benefits: A randomized controlled trial," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 182, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    2. repec:cge:warwcg:182 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Angner, Erik, 2010. "Subjective well-being," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 361-368, June.

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