Handbook on the Economics of Happiness
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Handbook on the Economics of Happiness

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.
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Chapter 23: Happiness and Sustainability: A Modern Paradox

Silva Marzetti Dall’Aste Brandolini


Silva Marzetti Dall’Aste Brandolini 1. Introduction Sustainability is a social construct, and non-sustainability is considered a consequence of social actions. As we read in Our Common Future (WCED 1987, pp. 11, 63) ‘an environment adequate for health and well-being is essential for all human beings – including future generations’. Therefore, if we have to pass from economic growth to human sustainable development, we need a moral evolution which must help humankind ‘cope with rapidly changing social, environmental, and development realities’. Economists are directly involved in this change, because material prosperity is still the main worry of human beings. They speak of welfare economics in the awareness that the link between what is valuable and what is right is welfare. However, the nature of value and its nexus with welfare and morality is a source of controversy in ethics and this disagreement is also reflected in economics. Philosophers, in fact, distinguish different ethical doctrines, and welfare economics has to a large extent been influenced by these. We believe that not only do the utilitarian and the neo-Humean views have to be kept in mind in the discussion about values in welfare economics, but also idealism and specifically the idealism of George Edward Moore. Therefore we distinguish four different theories of economic welfare, each one based on a different picture of values: the ‘classical’ theory1 based on the utilitarian view; the new welfare economics (NWE) based on the neoHumean view; John Harsanyi’s rule utilitarianism based on Benthamism...

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