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

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  • Collewet, Marion

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Collewet, Marion, 2014. "Approaches to well-being, use of psychology and paternalism in economics," Economics Discussion Papers 2014-1, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifwedp:20141
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Antonio Bariletti & Eleonora Sanfilippo, 2015. "At the origin of the notion of “creative goods” in economics: Scitovsky and Hawtrey," Working Papers 2015-02, Universita' di Cassino, Dipartimento di Economia e Giurisprudenza.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    paternalism; well-being; Scitovsky; happiness economics; constitutional approach;

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • B21 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Microeconomics

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