IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Scitovsky and the income-happiness paradox

  • Pugno, Maurizio

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.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

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

Volume (Year): 43 (2013)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 1-10

in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:43:y:2013:i:c:p:1-10
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2008. "Hypertension and happiness across nations," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 218-233, March.
  2. Peter E. Earl & Jason Potts, 2004. "The market for preferences," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 28(4), pages 619-633, July.
  3. Bruno S. Frey, 2008. "Happiness: A Revolution in Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262062771, June.
  4. Frey, Bruno S. & Benesch, Christine & Stutzer, Alois, 2007. "Does watching TV make us happy?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 283-313, June.
  5. James J. Heckman, 2008. "Schools, Skills, And Synapses," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 46(3), pages 289-324, 07.
  6. Cooper, Ben & Garcia-Penalosa, Cecilia & Funk, Peter, 2001. "Status Effects and Negative Utility Growth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 642-65, July.
  7. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman, 2009. "The Economics and Psychology of Inequality and Human DEvelopment," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(2-3), pages 320-364, 04-05.
  8. James J. Heckman & Rodrigo Pinto & Peter A. Savelyev, 2012. "Understanding the Mechanisms through Which an Influential Early Childhood Program Boosted Adult Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 18581, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 2003. "Projection Bias in Predicting Future Utility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1209-1248.
  10. Corneo, Giacomo, 2002. "Work and Television," CEPR Discussion Papers 3373, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Maria Salinas-Jiménez & Joaquín Artés & Javier Salinas-Jiménez, 2010. "Income, Motivation, and Satisfaction with Life: An Empirical Analysis," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 11(6), pages 779-793, December.
  12. Oswald, Andrew J, 2010. "Emotional Prosperity and the Stiglitz Commission," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 950, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  13. Liam Graham & Andrew J. Oswald, 2010. "Hedonic capital, adaptation and resilience," Post-Print hal-00870190, HAL.
  14. Pugno, Maurizio, 2006. "The service paradox and endogenous economic growth," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 99-115, January.
  15. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2008. "Relative Income, Happiness, and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(1), pages 95-144, March.
  16. Easterlin, Richard A. & Angelescu McVey, Laura, 2009. "Happiness and Growth the World Over: Time Series Evidence on the Happiness-Income Paradox," IZA Discussion Papers 4060, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  17. Daniel Kahneman & Alan B. Krueger, 2006. "Developments in the Measurement of Subjective Well-Being," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 3-24, Winter.
  18. James J. Heckman & Seong Hyeok Moon & Rodrigo Pinto & Peter A. Savelyev & Adam Yavitz, 2009. "The Rate of Return to the High/Scope Perry Preschool Program," NBER Working Papers 15471, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Alois Stutzer & Armando N. Meier, 2015. "Limited Self-Control, Obesity and the Loss of Happiness," CREMA Working Paper Series 2015-14, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  20. Michael Hagerty & Ruut Veenhoven, 2003. "Wealth and Happiness Revisited – Growing National Income Does Go with Greater Happiness," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 64(1), pages 1-27, October.
  21. Angeles, Luis, 2011. "A closer look at the Easterlin Paradox," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 67-73, February.
  22. Tomer, John F., 2001. "Addictions are not rational: a socio-economic model of addictive behavior," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 243-261, May.
  23. Julie S. Downs & George Loewenstein & Jessica Wisdom, 2009. "Strategies for Promoting Healthier Food Choices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 159-64, May.
  24. Christine Benesch & Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2006. "TV Channels, Self Control and Happiness," IEW - Working Papers 301, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  25. Richard Layard & Guy Mayraz & Stephen Nickell, 2009. "Does Relative Income Matter?: Are the Critics Right?," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 210, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  26. Oswald, Andrew J, 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1815-31, November.
  27. Pugno, Maurizio, 2008. "Economics and the self: A formalisation of self-determination theory," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 1328-1346, August.
  28. Marina Selini Katsaiti, 2012. "Obesity and happiness," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(31), pages 4101-4114, November.
  29. Sweeting, Helen & West, Patrick, 1995. "Family life and health in adolescence: A role for culture in the health inequalities debate," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 163-175, January.
  30. Hoch, Stephen J & Loewenstein, George F, 1991. " Time-Inconsistent Preferences and Consumer Self-Control," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(4), pages 492-507, March.
  31. Andrew E. Clark and Andrew J. Oswald, . "Satisfaction and Comparison Income," Economics Discussion Papers 419, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  32. Stefano Bartolini & Ennio Bilancini & Maurizio Pugno, 2013. "Did the Decline in Social Connections Depress Americans’ Happiness?," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 110(3), pages 1033-1059, February.
  33. Luigino Bruni & Luca Stanca, 2005. "Watching alone: Relational Goods, Television and Happiness," Working Papers 90, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Jun 2005.
  34. Kennon Sheldon & Sonja Lyubomirsky, 2006. "Achieving Sustainable Gains in Happiness: Change Your Actions, not Your Circumstances," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 7(1), pages 55-86, 03.
  35. Elizabeth U. Cascio, 2009. "Do Investments in Universal Early Education Pay Off? Long-term Effects of Introducing Kindergartens into Public Schools," NBER Working Papers 14951, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  36. Bianchi, Marina, 2003. "A questioning economist: Tibor Scitovsky's attempt to bring joy into economics," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 391-407, June.
  37. Scitovsky, Tibor, 1992. "The Joyless Economy: The Psychology of Human Satisfaction," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195073478, July.
  38. Easterlin, Richard A., 1995. "Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 35-47, June.
  39. Bianchi, Marina, 2002. "Novelty, preferences, and fashion: when goods are unsettling," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 1-18, January.
  40. Frank, Robert H, 1997. "The Frame of Reference as a Public Good," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1832-47, November.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:43:y:2013:i:c:p:1-10. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.