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Comparing Interpersonal Comparisons in Utility Theory and Happiness Research

  • Stefan Mann

Social scientists are reluctant to make explicit interpersonal comparisons of well-being. However, implicit comparisons are made on a surprisingly regular basis. These comparisons are based on the wealth and the Kaldor--Hicks concept in utility theory and on self-reported well-being in happiness research. Taking a utilitarian stance, this paper tests the ethical foundations of both principles. While self-reported well-being serves as an acceptable proxy for utilitarian decision-making, the Kaldor--Hicks concept does not appear so. Implications for evaluating policies are outlined.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s12143-007-0003-1
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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Forum for Social Economics.

Volume (Year): 36 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 29-42

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Handle: RePEc:taf:fosoec:v:36:y:2007:i:1:p:29-42
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