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Approaches to well-being, use of psychology and paternalism in economics

Listed author(s):
  • Collewet, Marion

This paper discusses three approaches in economics which take a position on the definition of well-being and which use insights from psychology to support their positions: Scitovsky's Joyless Economy, happiness economics, and the constitutional approach to happiness in economics. The paper shows first that the definition of well-being by each approach, which is a normative step, is revealed by the choice of a psychological theory or method rather than resulting from the application of a theory or method. Secondly, this paper demonstrates that personal judgement by the authors is often needed in the positive realm, in order to interpret psychological results and to then translate them into practical recommendations. Both of these issues have implications for those theories that define well-being as something other than the fulfillment of individual preferences whatever their content, and which therefore yield a potential justification for paternalism. This paper argues that the potential paternalistic implications of these approaches are not based on positive science only, but rely on normative choice and personal judgement.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.5018/economics-ejournal.ja.2014-32
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File URL: https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/102725/1/798404167.pdf
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Article provided by Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW) in its journal Economics: The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal.

Volume (Year): 8 (2014)
Issue (Month): ()
Pages: 1-25

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Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifweej:201432
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  1. Robert Sugden, 2004. "The Opportunity Criterion: Consumer Sovereignty Without the Assumption of Coherent Preferences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1014-1033, September.
  2. Bruno Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2010. "Happiness and public choice," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 144(3), pages 557-573, September.
  3. Paul Anand & Graham Hunter & Ron Smith, 2005. "Capabilities and Well-Being: Evidence Based on the Sen–Nussbaum Approach to Welfare," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 74(1), pages 9-55, October.
  4. Loewenstein, George & Ubel, Peter A., 2008. "Hedonic adaptation and the role of decision and experience utility in public policy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(8-9), pages 1795-1810, August.
  5. Christian Schubert, 2012. "Pursuing Happiness," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2012-01, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  6. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2008. "Economic Growth and Subjective Well-Being: Reassessing the Easterlin Paradox," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 39(1 (Spring), pages 1-102.
  7. Christian Schubert, 2012. "Pursuing Happiness," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(2), pages 245-261, 05.
  8. Richard H. Thaler & Cass R. Sunstein, 2003. "Libertarian Paternalism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 175-179, May.
  9. Bruno Frey & Matthias Benz & Alois Stutzer, 2004. "Introducing Procedural Utility: Not Only What, but Also How Matters," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 160(3), pages 377-377, September.
  10. Maurizio Pugno, 2014. "Scitovsky's The Joyless Economy and the economics of happiness," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(2), pages 278-303, April.
  11. repec:pri:cepsud:125krueger is not listed on IDEAS
  12. 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.
  13. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2002. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 402-435, June.
  14. Anand, Paul & van Hees, Martin, 2006. "Capabilities and achievements: An empirical study," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 268-284, April.
  15. Richard M. Ryan & Veronika Huta & Edward Deci, 2008. "Living well: a self-determination theory perspective on eudaimonia," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 139-170, January.
  16. Brennan, Geoffrey & Brooks, Michael, 2011. "On the ‘cashing out’ hypothesis and ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ policies," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 601-610.
  17. Cass R. Sunstein & Richard H. Thaler, 2003. "Libertarian paternalism is not an oxymoron," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 48(Jun).
  18. Ruut Veenhoven, 2010. "Greater Happiness for a Greater Number," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 11(5), pages 605-629, October.
  19. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
  20. Daniel Kahneman & Alan B. Krueger & David Schkade & Norbert Schwarz & Arthur Stone, 2004. "Toward National Well-Being Accounts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 429-434, May.
  21. Bruno Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2012. "The use of happiness research for public policy," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 38(4), pages 659-674, April.
  22. 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.
  23. Scitovsky, Tibor, 1992. "The Joyless Economy: The Psychology of Human Satisfaction," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195073478.
  24. Bruno S. Frey, 2008. "Happiness: A Revolution in Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262062771, July.
  25. Daniel Kahneman & Richard H. Thaler, 2006. "Anomalies: Utility Maximization and Experienced Utility," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 221-234, Winter.
  26. Backhouse, Roger E., 2009. "Robbins And Welfare Economics: A Reappraisal," Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, vol. 31(04), pages 474-484, December.
  27. B. Douglas Bernheim & Antonio Rangel, 2007. "Toward Choice-Theoretic Foundations for Behavioral Welfare Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 464-470, May.
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