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Scitovsky and the income-happiness paradox

  • Maurizio Pugno

    (University of Cassino)

The recent debate on happiness in economics has revived interest in Scitovsky’s 1976 book The Joyless Economy, which aims at explaining the income-happiness paradox, i.e. "why [American] unprecedented and fast-growing prosperity had left its beneficiaries unsatisfied." A dynamic economic model will distil Scitovsky’s proposal, which has not yet been integrated into conventional economics. It will show that people’s dissatisfaction may be due to their excess of demand for ‘comfort’, which requires consumption goods, and to their lack in pursuing ‘creative activities’, which instead essentially require leisure and a skill, called ‘leisure skill’, that people have failed to develop. Since comfort includes comparing consumption with that of others, Scitovsky also strengthened the conventional solution of the paradox.

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Paper provided by Universita' di Cassino, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche in its series Working Papers with number 2011-07.

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Length: 24 pages
Date of creation: 08 Dec 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:css:wpaper:2011-07
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