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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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  8. 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.
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  15. Stutzer, Alois, 2004. "The role of income aspirations in individual happiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 89-109, May.
  16. Alpizar, Francisco & Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2005. "How much do we care about absolute versus relative income and consumption?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 405-421, March.
  17. Christopher D. Carroll & Jody Overland & David N. Weil, 1995. "Saving and growth with habit formation," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 95-42, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  18. Arthur J. Robson, 2001. "The Biological Basis of Economic Behavior," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(1), pages 11-33, March.
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  20. 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.
  21. Oswald, Andrew, 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 478, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  22. Bruno S. Frey & Stephan Meier, 2004. "Social Comparisons and Pro-social Behavior: Testing "Conditional Cooperation" in a Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1717-1722, December.
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  25. Easterlin, Richard A., 2005. "A puzzle for adaptive theory," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 513-521, April.
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  27. Ed Hopkins & Tatiana Kornienko, 2002. "Running to Keep in the Same Place: Consumer Choice as a Game of Status," ESE Discussion Papers 92, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  28. Wilson, Chris M. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2005. "How Does Marriage Affect Physical and Psychological Health? A Survey of the Longitudinal Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 1619, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  29. 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.
  30. Jonathan Gardner & Andrew J. Oswald, 2006. "Do divorcing couples become happier by breaking up?," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 169(2), pages 319-336.
  31. Christopher D. Carroll, 2001. "A Theory of the Consumption Function, With and Without Liquidity Constraints (Expanded Version)," NBER Working Papers 8387, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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