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Approaches to well-being, use of psychology and paternalism in economics

  • Collewet, Marion

This paper discusses three approaches to well-being in economics which use insights from psychology to support their position: Scitovsky's Joyless Economy, happiness economics, and the constitutional approach to happiness in economics. It shows that in the way these approaches make use of psychology, normative choice is involved, and there is room for personal judgement. First, an approach to well-being, as an approach to what is worth pursuing, is necessarily normative. The use of psychological theories to support an approach to well-being relies on a normative step, revealed by the choice of a psychological theory by the economist. Second, personal judgement is often needed to translate the findings of psychology to recommendations for practice. Both things have implications for those theories which define well-being as something different than the fulfillment of individual preferences whatever they are, and therefore yield potential for paternalism. The paternalistic recommendations derived by economists are not based on positive science only, but also rely on personal judgement and normative choice.

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Paper provided by Kiel Institute for the World Economy in its series Economics Discussion Papers with number 2014-1.

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Date of creation: 2014
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifwedp:20141
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  1. Bruno Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2010. "Happiness and public choice," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 144(3), pages 557-573, September.
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  4. Christian Schubert, 2012. "Pursuing Happiness," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2012-01, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
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  12. Daniel Kahneman & Alan B. Krueger & David Schkade & Norbert Schwarz & Arthur A. Stone, 2006. "Would You Be Happier If You Were Richer? A Focusing Illusion," Working Papers 77, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
  13. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, . "What can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," IEW - Working Papers 080, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  14. Bruno S. Frey, 2008. "Happiness: A Revolution in Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262062771, June.
  15. Maurizio Pugno, 2014. "Scitovsky's The Joyless Economy and the economics of happiness," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(2), pages 278-303, April.
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  17. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2001. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," CESifo Working Paper Series 503, CESifo Group Munich.
  18. Stevenson, Betsey & Wolfers, Justin, 2008. "Economic Growth and Subjective Well-Being: Reassessing the Easterlin Paradox," CEPR Discussion Papers 6944, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  19. Ruut Veenhoven, 2010. "Greater Happiness for a Greater Number," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 11(5), pages 605-629, October.
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  21. Anand, Paul & van Hees, Martin, 2006. "Capabilities and achievements: An empirical study," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 268-284, April.
  22. Scitovsky, Tibor, 1992. "The Joyless Economy: The Psychology of Human Satisfaction," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195073478, March.
  23. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2008. "Economic Growth and Subjective Well-Being: Reassessing the Easterlin Paradox," CESifo Working Paper Series 2394, CESifo Group Munich.
  24. Brennan, Geoffrey & Brooks, Michael, 2011. "On the ‘cashing out’ hypothesis and ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ policies," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 601-610.
  25. Daniel Kahneman & Alan B. Krueger & David Schkade & Norbert Schwarz & Arthur Stone, 2004. "Toward National Well-Being Accounts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 429-434, May.
  26. Bianchi, Marina, 2003. "A questioning economist: Tibor Scitovsky's attempt to bring joy into economics," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 391-407, June.
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  28. Loewenstein, George & Ubel, Peter A., 2008. "Hedonic adaptation and the role of decision and experience utility in public policy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(8-9), pages 1795-1810, August.
  29. Daniel Kahneman & Richard H. Thaler, 2006. "Anomalies: Utility Maximization and Experienced Utility," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 221-234, Winter.
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