Happiness, Social Preferences and Economic Policy
Two recent research branches have called into question the hypothesis that the economic subject is rational and egoist, that is to say, that his/her sole objective is to maximize his/her own personal material interests. In the first place, the literature on the so-called happiness paradox has seriously put in question the given, widely diffused not only in the doctrine but also in the common perception, that a higher level of material welfare necessarily leads to a greater level of personal well being or happiness, on an individual level but even more so on a collective one. In the second place, experimental economics has produced a wealth of results that, vice versa, confirm something that the common sense and the personal observation of many had already suspected: economic subjects do not all and not always pursue exclusively the maximization of their own personal interests. This work critically discusses these two approaches and analyzes their interesting implications in economic policy
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