Happiness: A Revolution in Economics
Revolutionary developments in economics are rare. The conservative bias of the field and its enshrined knowledge make it difficult to introduce new ideas not in line with received theory. Happiness research, however, has the potential to change economics substantially. Its findings, which are gradually being taken into account in standard economics, can be considered revolutionary in three respects: the measurement of experienced utility using psychologists' tools for measuring subjective well-being, new insights into how human beings value goods and services and social conditions that include consideration of such non-material values as autonomy and social relations, and policy consequences of these new insights that suggest different ways for government to affect individual well-being. In Happiness, Bruno Frey, emphasizing empirical evidence rather than theoretical conjectures, substantiates these three revolutionary claims for happiness research. After tracing the major developments of happiness research in economics and demonstrating that we have gained important new insights into how income, unemployment, inflation, and income demonstration affect well-being, Frey examines democracy and federalism, self-employment and volunteer work, marriage, terrorism, and watching television from the new perspective of happiness research. Turning to policy implications, Frey describes how government can provide the conditions under which people can achieve well-being, arguing that effective political institutions and decentralized decision making play crucial roles. Happiness demonstrates the achievements of the economic happiness revolution and points the way to future research.
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