IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/ucp/jpolec/v115y2007p302-337.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Evolutionary Efficiency and Happiness

Author

Listed:
  • Luis Rayo
  • Gary S. Becker

Abstract

We model happiness as a measurement tool used to rank alternative actions. Evolution favors a happiness function that measures the individual’s success in relative terms. The optimal function is based on a time-varying reference point—or performance benchmark—that is updated over time in a statistically optimal way in order to match the individual’s potential. Habits and peer comparisons arise as special cases of such an updating process. This updating also results in a volatile level of happiness that continuously reverts to its long-term mean. Throughout, we draw a parallel with a problem of optimal incentives, which allows us to apply statistical insights from agency theory to the study of happiness.

Suggested Citation

  • Luis Rayo & Gary S. Becker, 2007. "Evolutionary Efficiency and Happiness," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 302-337.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:115:y:2007:p:302-337
    DOI: 10.1086/516737
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/516737
    Download Restriction: Access to the online full text or PDF requires a subscription.

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1086/516737?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Rogerson, William P, 1985. "The First-Order Approach to Principal-Agent Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(6), pages 1357-1367, November.
    2. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1996. "Satisfaction and comparison income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 359-381, September.
    3. Ken Binmore, 1994. "Game Theory and the Social Contract, Volume 1: Playing Fair," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262023636, December.
    4. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Proto, Eugenio & Rustichini, Aldo, 2012. "Life Satisfaction, Household Income and Personality Traits," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 86, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    2. Yamada, Katsunori & Sato, Masayuki, 2013. "Another avenue for anatomy of income comparisons: Evidence from hypothetical choice experiments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 35-57.
    3. Oshio, Takashi & Urakawa, Kunio, 2013. "The association between perceived income inequality and subjective well-being: Evidence from a social survey in Japan," CIS Discussion paper series 579, Center for Intergenerational Studies, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    4. Muhammad Faress Bhuiyan, 2018. "Life Satisfaction and Economic Position Relative to Neighbors: Perceptions Versus Reality," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 19(7), pages 1935-1964, October.
    5. AndrewE. Clark & Claudia Senik, 2010. "Who Compares to Whom? The Anatomy of Income Comparisons in Europe," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(544), pages 573-594, May.
    6. Clark, Andrew E. & Senik, Claudia & Yamada, Katsunori, 2017. "When experienced and decision utility concur: The case of income comparisons," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 1-9.
    7. Duclos, Jean-Yves, 2006. "Liberté ou égalité?," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 82(4), pages 441-476, décembre.
    8. Van Landeghem, Bert & Vandeplas, Anneleen, 2018. "The relationship between status and happiness: Evidence from the caste system in rural India," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 62-71.
    9. Drakopoulos, Stavros A., 2008. "The Concept Of Comparison Income: An Historical Perspective," MPRA Paper 8713, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2004. "Well-being over time in Britain and the USA," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1359-1386, July.
    11. Drakopoulos, Stavros, 2011. "Hierarchical Needs, Income Comparisons and Happiness Levels," MPRA Paper 48343, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Hajdu, Tamás & Hajdu, Gábor, 2011. "A hasznosság és a relatív jövedelem kapcsolatának vizsgálata magyar adatok segítségével [Examining the relation of utility and relative income using Hungarian data]," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(1), pages 56-73.
    13. Mary C. Daly & Daniel J. Wilson & Norman J. Johnson, 2013. "Relative Status and Well-Being: Evidence from U.S. Suicide Deaths," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(5), pages 1480-1500, December.
    14. Tufan Ekici & Selda Koydemir, 2016. "Income Expectations and Happiness: Evidence from British Panel Data," Applied Research in Quality of Life, Springer;International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies, vol. 11(2), pages 539-552, June.
    15. Torgler, Benno & Schmidt, Sascha L & Frey, Bruno S., 2006. "The Power of Positional Concerns: A Panel Analysis," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt1z14v7zt, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
    16. Adam Zaremba & Jacob Koby Shemer, 2018. "Price-Based Investment Strategies," Springer Books, Springer, number 978-3-319-91530-2, June.
    17. Georgarakos, Dimitris & Lojschova, Adriana & Ward-Warmedinger, Melanie E., 2009. "Mortgage Indebtedness and Household Financial Distress," IZA Discussion Papers 4631, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    18. Caporale, Guglielmo Maria & Georgellis, Yannis & Tsitsianis, Nicholas & Yin, Ya Ping, 2009. "Income and happiness across Europe: Do reference values matter?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 42-51, February.
    19. Proto, Eugenio & Rustichini, Aldo, 2015. "Life satisfaction, income and personality," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 17-32.
    20. Chang Wen-Chun, 2008. "Toward Independence or Unification?," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 13(2), pages 1-32, January.

    More about this item

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:115:y:2007:p:302-337. 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: . General contact details of provider: https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JPE .

    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 CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Journals Division (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JPE .

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.