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 20: Happiness, Satisfaction and Socioeconomic Conditions: Some International Evidence

Amado Peiró

Subjects: economics and finance, economic psychology


Amado Peiró 1. Introduction The pursuit of happiness and satisfaction underlies most human actions and creations. This is also true with regard to the role of the economy in human life. Nevertheless, economics has not always given these issues the importance they deserve. The roots of this neglect trace back to the discredit and fall of utilitarianism. In spite of being an influential trend in economic analysis, it lost most of its prestige at the beginning of the twentieth century due basically to two reasons: the problem of measuring utility, and the development of ordinal theories of utility that eradicated the approaches based on cardinal theories (see, for example, Lewin 1996; Kahneman et al. 1997). Nowadays, the paradoxes, anomalies and refutations of ordinal theories of utility have motivated a reassessment of cardinal theories from different approaches. With respect to measurement of utility, numerous surveys have been carried out in the last decades where individuals quantify their happiness and satisfaction. Although there may be an initial reluctance to accept these measures of subjective well-being, psychological and sociological studies sanction them (Argyle 1987; Myers 1993; Pavot and Diener 1993). They are consistent with alternative evaluations (Frank 1997), and they may be superior to rival concepts (Sumner 1996; Holländer 2001). In this context, economic research has recently begun to analyse the information contained in these surveys from its own perspective. This line of research should help to achieve several important goals: (i) a firmer establishment of foundations of economics; (ii)...

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