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.

Chapter 12: The Life Plan View of Happiness and the Paradoxes of Happiness

Mark Chekola

Subjects: economics and finance, economic psychology


Mark Chekola 1. Introduction ‘The Paradoxes of Happiness in Economics’, the topic of the conference held in Milan, 21–23 March 2003, arises because empirical studies of happiness and well-being have produced some results that are counterintuitive and paradoxical. For instance, after achieving a basic level of income, increases in income do not seem to lead to greater happiness; and while people see work as a burden, work seems important to happiness and unemployment detrimental to happiness. In order to deal with these paradoxes I believe it is important to be clear about the concept of happiness. As a philosopher, I find some of the references to happiness in discussing these issues disappointingly unclear, limited and barren. In the end what we are concerned with here is our lives. We need a concept of happiness that is rich and full enough to capture what it is that we really seek when we want our lives to be happy. In addition, we need to focus on the nature of happiness (what it is) rather than the conditions of happiness (its causes, conditions and determinants). Social scientists are concerned to be as objective as possible and, in seeking data to use in their studies, want the data to be acceptable, valid and objective, and to be relatively easily collected. Those concerns are understandable. But we must be careful not to let them lead to employing an unacceptably shallow or simple concept of happiness or well-being. I believe the tools of philosophy can...

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