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Balancing ‘full life’: An economic approach to the route to happiness

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  • Prinz, Aloys
  • Bünger, Björn

Abstract

This paper presents a formalization and modification of Martin Seligman’s concept of full life, employing basic microeconomics. A class of Stone–Geary utility functions is proposed as an analytical tool for scrutinizing individual decision making with respect to a pleasant, engaged and meaningful life. Using this specification of Seligman’s concept, we explain why people may differ with respect to the levels of a pleasant, engaged and meaningful life that they are trying to achieve. Moreover, we modify Seligman’s full life to the concept of balanced full life. This extension requires that, in addition to differences in people’s preferences regarding various aspects of life, differences in their time opportunity costs also be taken into account. Finally, the unique role of a meaningful life is discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Prinz, Aloys & Bünger, Björn, 2012. "Balancing ‘full life’: An economic approach to the route to happiness," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 58-70.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:33:y:2012:i:1:p:58-70
    DOI: 10.1016/j.joep.2011.08.011
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Happiness; Life satisfaction; Utility functions; Allocation of time;

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • D69 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Other
    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory

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