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Should We Maximize National Happiness?

Author

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  • Bruno S. Frey
  • Alois Stutzer

Abstract

Cross-disciplinary �happiness research� has made big progress in the measurement of individual welfare. This development makes it tempting to pursue the old dream of maximizing aggregate happiness as a social welfare function. However, we postulate that the appropriate approach is not to maximize aggregate happiness in seeking to improve outcomes by direct policy interventions. The goal of happiness research should rather be to improve the nature of the processes through which individuals can express their preferences. Individuals should become better able to advance their idea of the good life, both individually and collectively.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2006. "Should We Maximize National Happiness?," IEW - Working Papers 306, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  • Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:306
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    File URL: http://www.econ.uzh.ch/static/wp_iew/iewwp306.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Rafael Di Tella & Robert J. MacCulloch & Andrew J. Oswald, 2003. "The Macroeconomics of Happiness," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 809-827, November.
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    5. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sarracino, Francesco, 2013. "Determinants of subjective well-being in high and low income countries: Do happiness equations differ across countries?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 51-66.
    2. Hayo, Bernd, 2007. "Happiness in transition: An empirical study on Eastern Europe," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 204-221, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Economic policy; happiness; life satisfaction; political economy; social welfare; utility;

    JEL classification:

    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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