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Hedonic Capital

  • Graham, Liam

    (University College London)

  • Oswald, Andrew J.

    (University of Warwick)

This paper proposes a new way to think about happiness. It distinguishes between stocks and flows. Central to the analysis is a concept we call ‘hedonic capital’. The paper sets out a model of the dynamics of wellbeing in which bad life-shocks are smoothed by the drawing down of hedonic capital. The model fits the patterns found in the empirical literature: the existence of a stable level of wellbeing and a tendency to return gradually towards that level. It offers a theory of hedonic adaptation.

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File URL: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/research/workingpapers/2008/twerp_745.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Warwick, Department of Economics in its series The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) with number 745.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wrk:warwec:745
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Web page: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/

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  1. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 616, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
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  11. Menzel, Paul & Dolan, Paul & Richardson, Jeff & Olsen, Jan Abel, 2002. "The role of adaptation to disability and disease in health state valuation: a preliminary normative analysis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 55(12), pages 2149-2158, December.
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  13. Oswald, Andrew J. & Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2008. "Does happiness adapt? A longitudinal study of disability with implications for economists and judges," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1061-1077, June.
  14. Erzo F.P. Luttmer, 2004. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 10667, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Di Tella, R. & MacCulloch, R.J.: Oswald, A.J., 1997. "The Macroeconomics of Happiness," Papers 19, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics.
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  18. Rafael Di Tella & John Haisken-De New & Robert MacCulloch, 2007. "Happiness Adaptation to Income and to Status in an Individual Panel," NBER Working Papers 13159, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Christopher D. Carroll, 2001. "A Theory of the Consumption Function, with and without Liquidity Constraints," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 23-45, Summer.
  20. Keely, Louise C., 2005. "Why isn't growth making us happier? Utility on the hedonic treadmill," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 57(3), pages 333-355, July.
  21. Wu, Stephen, 2001. "Adapting to heart conditions: a test of the hedonic treadmill," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 495-507, July.
  22. Alpizar, Francisco & Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2001. "How Much Do We Care About Absolute Versus Relative Income and Consumption?," Working Papers in Economics 63, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  23. Ed Hopkins & Tatiana Kornienko, 2004. "Running to Keep in the Same Place: Consumer Choice as a Game of Status," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1085-1107, September.
  24. Carroll, Christopher D. & Weil, David N., 1994. "Saving and growth: a reinterpretation," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 133-192, June.
  25. Arthur J. Robson, 2001. "The Biological Basis of Economic Behavior," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(1), pages 11-33, March.
  26. Robson, Arthur J., 1996. "A Biological Basis for Expected and Non-expected Utility," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 397-424, February.
  27. Wilson, Chris M & Oswald, Andrew J, 2005. "How Does Marriage Affect Physical and Psychological Health? A Survey of the Longitudinal Evidence," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 728, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  28. Stutzer, Alois, 2004. "The role of income aspirations in individual happiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 89-109, May.
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  30. Easterlin, Richard A., 2005. "A puzzle for adaptive theory," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 513-521, April.
  31. Robert J. MacCulloch & Rafael Di Tella & Andrew J. Oswald, 2001. "Preferences over Inflation and Unemployment: Evidence from Surveys of Happiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 335-341, March.
  32. Clark, Andrew E., 1999. "Are wages habit-forming? evidence from micro data," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 179-200, June.
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