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Should National Happiness be Maximized?

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  • Bruno S. Frey
  • Alois Stutzer

Abstract

Cross-disciplinary ?happiness research? has made big progress in the measurement of individual welfare. This development makes it tempting to pursue the old dream of maximizing aggregate happiness as a social welfare function. However, we postulate that the appropriate approach is not to maximize aggregate happiness in seeking to improve outcomes by direct policy interventions. The goal of happiness research should rather be to improve the nature of the processes through which individuals can express their preferences. Individuals should become better able to advance their idea of the good life, both individually and collectively.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2006. "Should National Happiness be Maximized?," CREMA Working Paper Series 2006-26, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA), revised Mar 2007.
  • Handle: RePEc:cra:wpaper:2006-26
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    Cited by:

    1. Shiri Cohen Kaminitz, 2018. "Happiness Studies and the Problem of Interpersonal Comparisons of Satisfaction: Two Histories, Three Approaches," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 19(2), pages 423-442, February.
    2. Sonja C. Kassenboehmer & Christoph M. Schmidt, 2010. "Beyond GDP and Back: What is the Value-Added by Additional Components of Welfare Measurement?," RatSWD Working Papers 167, German Data Forum (RatSWD).
    3. Andrew E. Clark & Claudia Senik, 2010. "Will GDP growth increase happiness in developing countries?," Working Papers halshs-00564985, HAL.
    4. M. Fleurbaey., 2012. "Beyond GDP: The Quest for a Measure of Social Welfare," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 3.
    5. Bert G.M. Van Landeghem, 2008. "Human Well-Being over the Life Cycle: Longitudinal Evidence from a 20-Year Panel," LICOS Discussion Papers 21308, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
    6. Daniel J. Benjamin & Ori Heffetz & Miles S. Kimball & Nichole Szembrot, 2014. "Beyond Happiness and Satisfaction: Toward Well-Being Indices Based on Stated Preference," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(9), pages 2698-2735, September.
    7. Emma Samman, 2007. "Psychological and Subjective Well-being: A Proposal for Internationally Comparable Indicators," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(4), pages 459-486.
    8. Francesco Sarracino, 2012. "Money, Sociability and Happiness: Are Developed Countries Doomed to Social Erosion and Unhappiness?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 109(2), pages 135-188, November.
    9. repec:zbw:rwirep:0239 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Winton Bates, 2009. "Gross national happiness," Asian-Pacific Economic Literature, Asia Pacific School of Economics and Government, The Australian National University, vol. 23(2), pages 1-16, November.
    11. Sonja C. Kassenboehmer & Christoph M. Schmidt, 2010. "Beyond GDP and Back: What is the Value-added by Additional Components of Welfare Measurement?," Ruhr Economic Papers 0239, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    12. Chong Choi & Sae Kim & Shui Yu, 2009. "Global Ethics of Collective Internet Governance: Intrinsic Motivation and Open Source Software," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 90(4), pages 523-531, December.
    13. Niclas Berggren & Christian Bjørnskov & Therese Nilsson, 2018. "Do Equal Rights for a Minority Affect General Life Satisfaction?," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 19(5), pages 1465-1483, June.
    14. Corrado, L. & Weeks, M., 2010. "Identification Strategies in Survey Response Using Vignettes," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1031, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    15. Francesco Sarracino, 2014. "Richer in Money, Poorer in Relationships and Unhappy? Time Series Comparisons of Social Capital and Well-Being in Luxembourg," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 115(2), pages 561-622, January.
    16. Marc Fleurbaey & Erik Schokkaert & Koen Decancq, 2008. "What Good is Happiness?," OPHI Working Papers 20, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
    17. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2009. "Glück ? die ökonomische Analyse," CREMA Working Paper Series 2009-11, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    18. Ian Bache & Louise Reardon & Paul Anand, 2016. "Wellbeing as a Wicked Problem: Navigating the Arguments for the Role of Government," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 17(3), pages 893-912, June.
    19. Koen Decancq & Marc Fleurbaey & Erik Schokkaert, 2015. "Happiness, Equivalent Incomes and Respect for Individual Preferences," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 82, pages 1082-1106, December.
    20. Shiri Cohen Kaminitz, 2019. "Contemporary Procedural Utility and Hume’s Early Idea of Utility," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 269-282, January.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Economic policy; happiness; life satisfaction; political economy; social welfare; utility;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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