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(English) Can the Economics of Happiness Revive the Economics of Welfare (Italiano) L’economia della felicità può rinnovare l’economia del benessere?


  • AndreaSalvatore Antonio Barbieri


(English) This article questions the increasing use of “happiness” or “subjective well-being” in order to evaluate public policies and social conditions. In more scientific words, can the blossoming economics of happiness revive the economics of welfare, which is said to be dying? The first section puts economics of happiness in the history of economic thought. The second part presents the methodological arguments and proofs of happiness data relevance, as well the results that open on welfare economics renewal and unusual political recommendations. The last part concludes that happiness is a useful criterion to evaluate society’s state, but should not be the only one: happiness data can allow avoiding paternalism and ethnocentrism, for example, but happiness economics face several and serious challenges that should prevent researchers from transforming satisfaction scores into the only barometer of public action. (Italiano) Lo scopo di questo lavoro è quello di esaminare le questioni che solleva l’utilizzo di dati sul “benessere soggettivo” per valutare le politiche pubbliche. In termini più accademici, si tratta di determinare in quale misura l’economia della felicità, in piena espansione, può contribuire a rinnovare l’economia del benessere, che secondo alcuni autori sarebbe in una fase di stallo. Per capire meglio le implicazioni di questa questione, la prima parte dell’articolo situa l’economia della felicità e l’economia del benessere nella storia del pensiero economico. La seconda parte presenta le argomentazioni metodologiche dell’economia della felicità e il suo contributo al rinnovamento delle raccomandazioni delle politiche economiche e dell’economia del benessere. L’ultima parte sottolinea che la felicità è un criterio utile, ma non può essere l’unico criterio per giudicare lo stato della società: se l’economia della felicità vuole evitare una forma di paternalismo o di etnocentrismo, le incertezze metodologiche che ancora la circondano, e le obiezioni in linea di principio ci invita a non fare della felicità il solo barometro dell’azione pubblica.

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  • AndreaSalvatore Antonio Barbieri, 2014. "(English) Can the Economics of Happiness Revive the Economics of Welfare (Italiano) L’economia della felicità può rinnovare l’economia del benessere?," IRPPS Working Papers 60:2014, National Research Council, Institute for Research on Population and Social Policies.
  • Handle: RePEc:cnz:wpaper:60:2014

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ruut Veenhoven, 2003. "Hedonism and Happiness," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 4(4), pages 437-457, December.
    2. Corneo, Giacomo, 2005. "Work and television," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 99-113, March.
    3. Runt Veenhoven, 2002. "Why Social Policy Needs Subjective Indicators," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 58(1), pages 33-46, June.
    4. Kenneth J. Arrow, 1950. "A Difficulty in the Concept of Social Welfare," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58, pages 328-328.
    5. Sen, Amartya K, 1979. "Personal Utilities and Public Judgements: Or What's Wrong with Welfare Economics?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 89(355), pages 537-558, September.
    6. Phelps, Charlotte D., 2001. "A clue to the paradox of happiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 293-300, July.
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    (English) Happiness; Subjective well-being; Welfare economics; Utilitarianism; “Welfarism” (Italiano) Economia della felicità; Economia del benessere; Benessere soggettivo; Utilitarismo; “Welferismo”;

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