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Happiness, Social Preferences and Economic Policy

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  • Luigi Bosco

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Abstract

Two recent research branches have called into question the hypothesis that the economic subject is rational and egoist, that is to say, that his/her sole objective is to maximize his/her own personal material interests. In the first place, the literature on the so-called happiness paradox has seriously put in question the given, widely diffused not only in the doctrine but also in the common perception, that a higher level of material welfare necessarily leads to a greater level of personal well being or happiness, on an individual level but even more so on a collective one. In the second place, experimental economics has produced a wealth of results that, vice versa, confirm something that the common sense and the personal observation of many had already suspected: economic subjects do not all and not always pursue exclusively the maximization of their own personal interests. This work critically discusses these two approaches and analyzes their interesting implications in economic policy

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Siena in its series Department of Economics University of Siena with number 459.

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Date of creation: Jul 2005
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Handle: RePEc:usi:wpaper:459

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  1. Margin Dufwenberg & Georg Kirchsteiger, 2001. "A Theory of Sequential Reciprocity," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000090, David K. Levine.
  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. Georg Kirchsteiger & Ernst Fehr & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5927, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  4. Samuel Bowles, 1998. "Endogenous Preferences: The Cultural Consequences of Markets and Other Economic Institutions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 75-111, March.
  5. Guth, Werner & Schmittberger, Rolf & Schwarze, Bernd, 1982. "An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 367-388, December.
  6. Urs Fischbacher & Simon Gaechter & Ernst Fehr, . "Are People Conditionally Cooperative? Evidence from a Public Goods Experiment," IEW - Working Papers 016, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
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Cited by:
  1. Jan Eichhorn, 2013. "Unemployment Needs Context: How Societal Differences between Countries Moderate the Loss in Life-Satisfaction for the Unemployed," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 14(6), pages 1657-1680, December.

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