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Evidence based pursuit of happiness: What should we know, do we know and can we get to know?

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  • Veenhoven, Ruut

Abstract

The rational pursuit of happiness requires knowledge of happiness and in particular answers to the following four questions: 1: Is greater happiness realistically possible? 2: If so, to what extent is that in our own hands? 3: How can we get happier? What things should be considered in the choices we make? 4: How does the pursuit of happiness fit with other things we value? Answers to these questions are not only sought by individuals who want to improve their personal life, they are also on the mind of managers concerned about the happiness of members of their organization and of governments aiming to promote greater happiness of a greater number of citizens. All these actors might make more informed choices if they could draw on a sound base of evidence. In this paper I take stock of the available evidence and the answers it holds for the four types of questions asked by the three kinds of actors. To do this, I use a large collection of research findings on happiness gathered in the World Database of Happiness. The data provide good answers to the questions 1 and 2, but fall short on the questions 3 and 4. Priorities for further research are indicated.

Suggested Citation

  • Veenhoven, Ruut, 2012. "Evidence based pursuit of happiness: What should we know, do we know and can we get to know?," MPRA Paper 41924, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:41924
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/41924/1/MPRA_paper_41924.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Cahit Guven, 2011. "Are Happier People Better Citizens?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(2), pages 178-192, May.
    2. R. Veenhoven, 2008. "Healthy happiness: effects of happiness on physical health and the consequences for preventive health care," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 449-469, September.
    3. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2009. "The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 190-225, August.
    4. Heidi Lepper, 1998. "Use of Other-Reports to Validate Subjective Well-Being Measures," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 44(3), pages 367-379, July.
    5. 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.
    6. J. Ott, 2011. "Government and Happiness in 130 Nations: Good Governance Fosters Higher Level and More Equality of Happiness," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 102(1), pages 3-22, May.
    7. Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1997. "A Case for Happiness, Cardinalism, and Interpersonal Comparability," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1848-1858, November.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Happiness, & statistical fetishism
      by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2012-10-31 18:27:56

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    Cited by:

    1. Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn & Tim Nash & Natasha Tursi, 2015. "Luxury car owners are not happier than frugal car owners," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 62(2), pages 121-141, June.
    2. repec:eee:ecolec:v:149:y:2018:i:c:p:1-11 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    happiness economics; life-satisfaction; research synthesis; utilitarianism;

    JEL classification:

    • B31 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals - - - Individuals
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • H00 - Public Economics - - General - - - General

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