Table of Contents

Handbook on the Economics of Happiness

Handbook on the Economics of Happiness

Elgar original reference

Edited by Luigino Bruni and Pier Luigi Porta

This book is a welcome consolidation and extension of the recent expanding debates on happiness and economics. Happiness and economics, as a new field for research, is now of pivotal interest particularly to welfare economists and psychologists. This Handbook provides an unprecedented forum for discussion of the economic issues relating to happiness. It reviews the more recent literature and offers the interested reader an insight into the vast scope of the field in terms of the theory, its applications and also experimental design. The Handbook also gives substantial indications as to the future direction of research in the field, with particular regard to policy applications and developing an economics of interpersonal relations which includes reciprocity and social interaction theory.


Luigino Bruni and Pier Luigi Porta

Subjects: economics and finance, economic psychology


Luigino Bruni and Pier Luigi Porta* 1. Economics and happiness: a new field with a long history Many people focus on wealth when they pursue happiness, but research on social relationships suggests that they can be more important than material prosperity to subjective well-being. The word needs to be spread – it is important to work on social skills, close interpersonal ties, and social support in order to be happy. It is a mistake to value money over social relationships. (Diener and Seligman 2004) After Rome had caught fire, it was probably 65 AD, Emperor Nero engineered to restore his reeling popularity by staging, in a surviving amphitheatre (before the Colosseum even existed), an immense gathering to watch a group of poor Christians be eaten up by fierce lions. As the stage opened – so the story goes – very soon after the first roaring hungry beast had dashed into the arena, one of those poor Christians, quite unexpectedly, sprang up toward the lion and somehow managed to mutter a few words in the lion’s ear. Instantly the lion lost his mood, collapsed to the ground and lay still without any possible reaction. Breathless, the crowd looked at Nero. The Emperor immediately ordered a second lion, a fiercer one, to enter the stage. To no avail, however, and the same scene went on being repeated three or four times. The event definitely looked like a miracle. The Emperor, of course, was furious as the atmosphere was getting stormy. Two brutal soldiers got...