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Beyond Outcomes: Measuring Procedural Utility

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  • Bruno S. Frey
  • Alois Stutzer

Abstract

People not only obtain utility from actual outcomes but also from the conditions which lead to these outcomes. The paper proposes an economic concept of this notion of procedural utility. Preferences beyond outcome can be manifold. We distinguish procedural utility people get from institutions as such, i.e. from how allocative and redistributive decisions are taken, procedural utility from activities towards which people have an intrinsic attitude and procedural utility from the way being treated in interaction with other people. In an empirical application, it is studied whether people gain procedural utility from participating in the political decision-making process itself, irrespective of the outcome. Utility is measured by individuals’ reported subjective well-being. We find that participation rights provide procedural utility in terms of a feeling of self-determination and influence. In contrast, actual participation and use of participation rights does not.

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Paper provided by Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich in its series IEW - Working Papers with number 076.

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Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:076

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Keywords: Procedural utility; subjective well-being; political participation; participation rights;

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