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The Economic Problem of Happiness. Keynes on Happiness and Economics

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  • Anna M. Carabelli
  • Mario A. Cedrini

    (SEMEQ Department - Faculty of Economics - University of Eastern Piedmont)

Abstract

In their latest book (2008), Bruno Frey and the members of the research group he chairs at the University of Zurich announce that happiness research is leading a revolution in economics. More precisely, the revolutionary character of happiness economics would draw on measurement, on how people value goods and social conditions, as well as on policies. This paper aims to discuss critically this claim and what we identified as five crucial issues of mainstream happiness economics, i.e.: 1. the ambiguous relationship between income and happiness, 2. the “back to Bentham” approach, 3. problems of incommensurability, 4. heterogeneity and multidimensionality, 5. the scope of economics in relation to happiness. In so doing, we attempt to review John Maynard Keynes’s vision about happiness and economics, starting from a revisiting of his essay Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren in the light of his early unpublished writings on ethics as well as of the whole bulk of his writings in economics. We then provide reasons to argue that the rediscovery of Keynes’s legacy in this respect can be of help to point out and examine the most controversial aspects of today’s happiness research.

Suggested Citation

  • Anna M. Carabelli & Mario A. Cedrini, 2009. "The Economic Problem of Happiness. Keynes on Happiness and Economics," Working Papers 123, SEMEQ Department - Faculty of Economics - University of Eastern Piedmont.
  • Handle: RePEc:upo:upopwp:123
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    24. 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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    Cited by:

    1. Anna M. Carabelli & Mario A. Cedrini, 2010. ">i>Indian Currency>/i> and beyond: the legacy of the early economics of Keynes in the times of Bretton Woods II," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(2), pages 255-280, January.
    2. Anna Carabelli, 2012. "A new methodological approach to economic theory: what I have learnt from 30 years of research on Keynes," Chapters, in: Jesper Jespersen & Mogens Ove Madsen (ed.), Keynes’s General Theory for Today, chapter 5, pages 79-97, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Carabelli, Anna M. & Cedrini, Mario, 2013. "Globalization and Keynes’s Ideal of a “Sounder Political Economy between all Nations," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 201349, University of Turin.
    4. Jörg Bibow, 2010. "Global imbalances, the US dollar, and how the crisis at the core of global finance spread to "self-insuring" emerging market economies," European Journal of Economics and Economic Policies: Intervention, Edward Elgar Publishing, vol. 7(2), pages 325-359.
    5. Carabelli, Anna & Cedrini, Mario, 2013. "A Methodological Reading of "The Economic Consequences of the Peace"," CESMEP Working Papers 201304, University of Turin.
    6. Anna M. Carabelli & Mario A. Cedrini, 2010. "“Veiling The Controversies with Dubious Moral Attitudes”? Creditors and Debtors in Keynes’s Ethics of International Economic Relations," Working Papers 127, SEMEQ Department - Faculty of Economics - University of Eastern Piedmont.
    7. Ricardo Crespo & Belén Mesurado, 2015. "Happiness Economics, Eudaimonia and Positive Psychology: From Happiness Economics to Flourishing Economics," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 16(4), pages 931-946, August.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Happiness; Happiness economics; John Maynard Keynes; Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • B31 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals - - - Individuals

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