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The Value to the Environmental Movement of the New Literature on the Economics of Happiness


  • Oswald, Andrew J.

    (University of Warwick and CAGE UK and IZA Germany)


Many environmentalists have not yet discovered and understood the value to them of a new research literature. That literature is the economics of happiness. It offers a potentially important tool for future policy debate. In particular, this literature offers a defensible way to calculate the costs and benefits of the true happiness value of ‘green’ variables – and to weigh those against the happiness value to people of extra income and consumption. Some of the latest research findings turn out to accord well with environmentalists’ intuitions : green variables seem to have large direct effects on human well-being; society would arguably be better to concentrate more on environmental aims and less on monetary or materialistic ones; greater consumption of things in Western society cannot be expected to make us much happier

Suggested Citation

  • Oswald, Andrew J., 2012. "The Value to the Environmental Movement of the New Literature on the Economics of Happiness," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 997, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:wrk:warwec:997

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bruno S. Frey & Simon Luechinger & Alois Stutzer, 2010. "The Life Satisfaction Approach to Environmental Valuation," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 139-160, October.
    2. Susana Ferreira & Mirko Moro, 2010. "On the Use of Subjective Well-Being Data for Environmental Valuation," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 46(3), pages 249-273, July.
    3. Oswald, Andrew J, 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1815-1831, November.
    4. Rehdanz, Katrin & Maddison, David, 2005. "Climate and happiness," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 111-125, January.
      • Katrin Rehdanz & David J. Maddison, 2003. "Climate and Happiness," Working Papers FNU-20, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Apr 2003.
    5. Horowitz, John K. & McConnell, Kenneth E., 2002. "A Review of WTA/WTP Studies," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 426-447, November.
    6. Levinson, Arik, 2012. "Valuing public goods using happiness data: The case of air quality," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(9-10), pages 869-880.
    7. MacKerron, George & Mourato, Susana, 2009. "Life satisfaction and air quality in London," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(5), pages 1441-1453, March.
    8. Welsch, Heinz, 2006. "Environment and happiness: Valuation of air pollution using life satisfaction data," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(4), pages 801-813, July.
    9. Simon Luechinger, 2009. "Valuing Air Quality Using the Life Satisfaction Approach," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(536), pages 482-515, March.
    10. Oswald, Andrew J. & Wu, Stephen, 2010. "Objective Confirmation of Subjective Measures of Human Well-being: Evidence from the USA," IZA Discussion Papers 4695, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    11. Fliessbach, Klaus & Weber, Bernd & Trautner, P. & Dohmen, Thomas J. & Sunde, Uwe & Elger, C. E. & Falk, Armin, 2007. "Social comparison affects reward-related brain activity in the human ventral striatum," Munich Reprints in Economics 20362, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    12. Welsch, Heinz, 2009. "Implications of happiness research for environmental economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(11), pages 2735-2742, September.
    13. Welsch, Heinz, 2002. "Preferences over Prosperity and Pollution: Environmental Valuation Based on Happiness Surveys," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(4), pages 473-494.
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