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Happiness and public policy: a procedural perspective

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  • STUTZER, ALOIS

Abstract

This article comments on the role of empirical subjective wellbeing research in public policy within a constitutional, procedural perspective of government and state. It rejects the idea that, based on the promises of the measurement, we should adopt a new policy perspective that is oriented toward a decision rule maximizing some aggregate measure of subjective wellbeing. This social engineering perspective, implicit in much reasoning about wellbeing policy, neglects: (1) important motivation problems on the part of government actors, such as incentives to manipulate indicators, but also on the part of citizens to truthfully report their wellbeing; and (2) procedural utility as a source of wellbeing. Instead, wellbeing research should be oriented toward gaining insights that improve the diagnoses of societal problems and help us to evaluate alternative institutional arrangements in order to address them, both as inputs into the democratic process.

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  • Stutzer, Alois, 2020. "Happiness and public policy: a procedural perspective," Behavioural Public Policy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(2), pages 210-225, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:bpubpo:v:4:y:2020:i:2:p:210-225_7
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    2. Martijn Burger & Martijn Hendriks & Elena Ianchovichina, 2022. "Happy but Unequal: Differences in Subjective Well-Being across Individuals and Space in Colombia," Applied Research in Quality of Life, Springer;International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies, vol. 17(3), pages 1343-1387, June.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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