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Open issues in happiness research

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  • Bruno Frey

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  • Jana Gallus
  • Lasse Steiner

Abstract

Happiness research is one of the most vivid and fruitful parts of modern economics. The focus is on empirical findings. In contrast, theoretical work has been rather neglected. The paper deals with three areas needing more analytical work: the choice or imposition of comparison or reference groups; and the extent, speed and symmetry of adaptation to positive and negative shocks on happiness. In both areas, theoretical propositions are derived which can in the future be empirically tested. The third area relates to the political economy of happiness. Many governments intend to take the happiness index as a criterion of how successful their policies are. As a consequence, survey respondents get an incentive to misrepresent their happiness level, and governments to manipulate the aggregate happiness indicator in their favor. A country’s constitution must induce governments to carefully observe human rights, democracy, the decentralization of political decision making, and market institutions and provide people with the possibility to acquire a good education and find a suitable job. Copyright Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Suggested Citation

  • Bruno Frey & Jana Gallus & Lasse Steiner, 2014. "Open issues in happiness research," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 61(2), pages 115-125, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:inrvec:v:61:y:2014:i:2:p:115-125
    DOI: 10.1007/s12232-014-0203-y
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    Cited by:

    1. Fiorillo, Damiano & Sabatini, Fabio, 2015. "Structural social capital and health in Italy," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 17(C), pages 129-142.
    2. Artjoms Ivlevs & Milena Nikolova & Carol Graham, 2019. "Emigration, remittances, and the subjective well-being of those staying behind," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 32(1), pages 113-151, January.
    3. Bartosz Wilczek, 2018. "Media use and life satisfaction: the moderating role of social events," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 65(2), pages 157-184, June.
    4. Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn & Tim Nash & Natasha Tursi, 2015. "Luxury car owners are not happier than frugal car owners," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 62(2), pages 121-141, June.
    5. Bruno S. Frey, 2020. "What are the opportunities for future happiness research?," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 67(1), pages 5-12, March.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Happiness; Life satisfaction; Reference group; Adaptation; Policy; A13; D64;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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