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Maximising Happiness?

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  • Bruno S. Frey
  • Alois Stutzer

Abstract

The measurement of individual happiness challenges the notion that revealed preferences only reliably and empirically reflect individual utility. Reported subjective well-being is a broader concept than traditional decision utility; it also includes concepts like experience and procedural utility. Micro- and macroeconometric happiness functions offer new insights on determinants of life satisfaction. However, one should not leap to the conclusion that happiness should be maximised, as was suggested for social welfare function maximisation. In contrast, happiness research strengthens the validity of an institutional approach, such as reflected in the theory of democratic economic policy.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich in its series IEW - Working Papers with number 022.

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Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:022

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Keywords: constitutional economics; happiness; institutions; social welfare function;

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