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.
    ---><---

    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. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1996. "Satisfaction and comparison income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 359-381, September.
    2. 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, September.
    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. Hugh Gravelle & Matt Sutton, 2009. "Income, relative income, and self‐reported health in Britain 1979–2000," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(2), pages 125-145, February.
    2. Senik, Claudia, 2009. "Direct evidence on income comparisons and their welfare effects," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 408-424, October.
    3. Paulo Aguiar Do Monte, 2011. "Job Dissatisfaction And Labour Turnover:Evidence From Brazil," Anais do XXXVIII Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 38th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 135, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pós-Graduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    4. H Peyton Young, 2014. "The Evolution of Social Norms," Economics Series Working Papers 726, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    5. Proto, Eugenio & Rustichini, Aldo, 2012. "Life Satisfaction, Household Income and Personality Traits," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 988, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    6. McCausland, David & Pouliakas, Konstantinos & Theodossiou, Ioannis, 2005. "Some are Punished and Some are Rewarded: A Study of the Impact of Performance Pay on Job Satisfaction," MPRA Paper 14243, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Cardoso, Ana Rute, 2012. "Money and rank in the labor market," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 115(2), pages 325-328.
    8. De Neve, Jan-Emmanuel & Oswald, Andrew J., 2012. "Estimating the influence of life satisfaction and positive affect on later income using sibling fixed-effects," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 51523, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    9. Andrew E. Clark, 2018. "Four Decades of the Economics of Happiness: Where Next?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 64(2), pages 245-269, June.
    10. G Oskrochi & Ahmed Bani-Mustafa & Y Oskrochi, 2018. "Factors affecting psychological well-being: Evidence from two nationally representative surveys," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 13(6), pages 1-14, June.
    11. Christian Grund & Dirk Sliwka, 2007. "Reference-Dependent Preferences and the Impact of Wage Increases on Job Satisfaction: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 163(2), pages 313-335, June.
    12. Botond Kőszegi & Matthew Rabin, 2006. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1133-1165.
    13. Tortia, Ermanno, 2014. "L'impresa come bene comune," AICCON Working Papers 131-2013, Associazione Italiana per la Cultura della Cooperazione e del Non Profit.
    14. Andrew E. Clark, 2009. "Work, jobs and well-being across the Millennium," PSE Working Papers halshs-00566139, HAL.
    15. Goerke, Laszlo, 2013. "Relative consumption and tax evasion," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 52-65.
    16. Rainer Winkelmann, 2009. "Unemployment, Social Capital, and Subjective Well-Being," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 421-430, August.
    17. Nattavudh Powdthavee, 2005. "Unhappiness and Crime: Evidence from South Africa," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 72(287), pages 531-547, August.
    18. Gunther Tichy, 2014. "Flexicurity – ein an seiner Umsetzung scheiterndes Konzept," WIFO Monatsberichte (monthly reports), WIFO, vol. 87(8), pages 537-553, August.
    19. 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.
    20. Grund, Christian & Sliwka, Dirk, 2001. "The Impact of Wage Increases on Job Satisfaction - Empirical Evidence and Theoretical Implications," IZA Discussion Papers 387, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    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: (Journals Division). 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 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.

    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.