Happiness, Economics and Politics
Show Less

Happiness, Economics and Politics

Towards a Multi-Disciplinary Approach

Edited by Amitava Krishna Dutt and Benjamin Radcliff

This timely and important book presents a unique study of happiness from both economic and political perspectives. It offers an overview of contemporary research on the emergent field of happiness studies and contains contributions by some of the leading figures in the field.
Buy Book in Print
Show Summary Details
You do not have access to this content

Chapter 14: Should National Happiness be Maximized?

Bruno S. Frey and Alois Stutzer


Bruno S. Frey and Alois Stutzer1 INTRODUCTION 14.1 Cross-disciplinary ‘happiness research’ has attracted great attention within the social sciences as well as in the general public. This is reflected in a massive increase of scholarly work on people’s subjective well-being and frequent featuring of happiness research in blogs, in the media, as well as in publications of think tanks.2 A case in point is the empirical study of happiness in economics. Within ten years many insights about the determinants of individual well-being were attained (for surveys, see Di Tella and MacCulloch, 2006; Frey, 2008; Frey and Stutzer, 2002a, b; Layard, 2005; van Praag and Ferrer-iCarbonell, 2004). Moreover, the separation of traditional decision utility from experienced utility as reflected in subjective well-being challenges the orthodoxy of the revealed preference approach in economics (Kahneman et al., 1997; Stutzer and Frey, 2007). Individuals’ ex post evaluation of their experiences now allows us to directly study problems of self-control and utility misprediction (Frey and Stutzer, 2008; Kahneman and Thaler, 2006; Stutzer, this volume). We plead guilty for being euphoric about the advances in happiness research. In addition to seeking to explain the determinants and consequences of happiness, a big effort has been made to derive implications for policy. We argue that it is tempting to apply happiness research in a technocratic way. This is best visible in the idea of maximizing aggregate happiness as a social welfare function. This is, however, a mistaken direction to go in. It neglects the insights from political economics...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information

or login to access all content.