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Scitovsky and the income-happiness paradox

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  • Pugno, Maurizio

Abstract

The recent debate on happiness in economics has revived interest in Scitovsky's 1976 book The Joyless Economy, which aims at extending the concept of welfare, and explaining the income-happiness paradox, i.e. “why [American] unprecedented and fast-growing prosperity had left its beneficiaries unsatisfied.” A dynamic economic model will distil Scitovsky's proposal, which has not yet been integrated into conventional economics. It will show that people's dissatisfaction may be due to their excess of demand for ‘comfort’, which essentially requires consumption goods, and to their failure to adequately develop ‘leisure skill’, which is necessary to enjoy ‘creative activities’ during leisure time. Since comfort includes comparing consumption with that of others, Scitovsky also strengthened the conventional solution of the paradox.

Suggested Citation

  • Pugno, Maurizio, 2013. "Scitovsky and the income-happiness paradox," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 1-10.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:43:y:2013:i:c:p:1-10
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socec.2012.11.016
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    1. repec:spr:soinre:v:136:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s11205-017-1566-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Bruno Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2014. "Economic Consequences of Mispredicting Utility," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 937-956, August.
    3. Maurizio Pugno, 2015. "Capability and Happiness: A Suggested Integration From a Dynamic Perspective," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 16(6), pages 1383-1399, December.
    4. Antonio Bariletti & Eleonora Sanfilippo, 2015. "At the origin of the notion of “creative goods” in economics: Scitovsky and Hawtrey," Working Papers 2015-02, Universita' di Cassino, Dipartimento di Economia e Giurisprudenza.
    5. Leonardo Becchetti & Pierluigi Conzo, 2018. "Preferences for Well-Being and Life Satisfaction," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 136(2), pages 775-805, April.
    6. Leshchaykina, Marina, 2014. "Econometric cross-country analysis of the living population social comfort," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 36(4), pages 102-117.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Scitovsky; Income-happiness paradox; Comfort; Creative activities; Leisure skill;

    JEL classification:

    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General

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