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A note on interdependent happiness

  • Bolle, Friedel
  • Okhrin, Yarema
  • Vogel, Claudia

Based on two models of interdependent utilities [Becker, G., 1974. A theory of social interaction, Journal of Political Economy 82, 1064-1093; Fehr, E., Schmidt, K., 1999. A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation, Quarterly Journal of Economics 114, 817-868] we derive a functional relationship between average happiness and the standard deviation of happiness within a country. This hypothesis is supported by an empirical investigation of 71 countries which shows that the average happiness in these countries depends only on income and on the standard deviation of happiness [sigma]. The latter may be partly based on influences beyond income, for which no data are available. Income has the expected positive influence and [sigma] has the expected negative influence, i.e. large differences in "autonomous" happiness have a dampening influence on "effective" happiness which also takes into account the happiness of others.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics).

Volume (Year): 38 (2009)
Issue (Month): 5 (October)
Pages: 713-721

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Handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:38:y:2009:i:5:p:713-721
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  1. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1999. "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Munich Reprints in Economics 20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  2. Ed Diener & Eunkook Suh & Heidi Smith & Liang Shao, 1995. "National differences in reported subjective well-being: Why do they occur?," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 34(1), pages 7-32, January.
  3. Geeta G. Kingdon & John Knight, 2004. "Community, Comparisons and Subjective Well-being in a Divided Society," CSAE Working Paper Series 2004-21, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  4. Alan B. Krueger & David A. Schkade, 2007. "The Reliability of Subjective Well-Being Measures," NBER Working Papers 13027, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Bruno S. Frey & Christine Benesch & Alois Stutzer, 2005. "Does Watching TV Make Us Happy?," CREMA Working Paper Series 2005-15, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  6. Charness, Gary & Grosskopf, Brit, 2001. "Relative payoffs and happiness: an experimental study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 301-328, July.
  7. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1994. "Satisfaction and comparison income," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9408, CEPREMAP.
  8. Lindbeck, Assar & Weibull, Jorgen W, 1988. "Altruism and Time Consistency: The Economics of Fait Accompli," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(6), pages 1165-82, December.
  9. Jan Ott, 2005. "Level and Inequality of Happiness in Nations: Does Greater Happiness of a Greater Number Imply Greater Inequality in Happiness?," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 6(4), pages 397-420, December.
  10. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  11. Wim Kalmijn & Ruut Veenhoven, 2005. "Measuring Inequality of Happiness in Nations: In Search for Proper Statistics," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 6(4), pages 357-396, December.
  12. Friedel Bolle & Simon Kemp, 2009. "Can We Compare Life Satisfaction Between Nationalities? Evaluating Actual and Imagined Situations," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 90(3), pages 397-408, February.
  13. McCabe, Kevin A. & Rigdon, Mary L. & Smith, Vernon L., 2003. "Positive reciprocity and intentions in trust games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 267-275, October.
  14. Becker, Gary S, 1974. "A Theory of Social Interactions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1063-93, Nov.-Dec..
  15. Ruut Veenhoven & Wim Kalmijn, 2005. "Inequality-Adjusted Happiness in Nations Egalitarianism and Utilitarianism Married in a New Index of Societal Performance," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 6(4), pages 421-455, December.
  16. Kritikos, Alexander & Bolle, Friedel, 2001. "Distributional concerns: equity- or efficiency-oriented?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 73(3), pages 333-338, December.
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