Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

WHY ECONOMISTS SHOULD BE UNHAPPY WITH THE ECONOMICS OF HAPPINESS*

  • Pierluigi Barrotta (a1)

Abstract

The economics of happiness is an influential research programme, the aim of which is to change welfare economics radically. In this paper I set out to show that its foundations are unreliable. I shall maintain two basic theses: (a) the economics of happiness shows inconsistencies with the first person standpoint, contrary claims on the part of the economists of happiness notwithstanding, and (b) happiness is a dubious concept if it is understood as the goal of welfare policies. These two theses are closely related and lead to a third thesis: (c) happiness should be replaced by autonomy as the fundamental goal of welfare economics. To defend my claims I shall show that a hedonic approach to happiness leads to an awkward trilemma. Furthermore, I shall clarify the meaning of “happiness” and “autonomy”, along with their conceptual relationships.

Copyright

References

Hide All
Ackrill, J. L. 1980. Aristotle on Eudaimonia. In Essays on Aristotle's ethics, ed. Rorty, A. O., 1533. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Aristotle 2000. The Nicomachean Ethics, translated and edited by Crisp, R.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bavetta, S. and Guala, F.. 2003. Autonomy, freedom, and deliberation. Journal of Theoretical Politics 15: 423–43.
Bavetta, S. and Navarra, P.. 2004. Theoretical foundations of empirical measures of freedom: A research challenge to liberal economists. Economic Affairs 24: 43–6.
Bruni, L. 2004. History of Happiness in Economics. London: Routledge.
Bruni, L. and Porta, P.. 2004. Introduzione to Felicità ed economia. Milan: Guerini e Associati.
Bruni, L. and Porta, P.. 2005. Economics and happiness. Framing the analysis. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bruni, L. and Porta, P., eds. 2006. Felicità e libertà. Milan: Guerini Associati.
Carter, I. 1999. A measure of freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Easterlin, R. A. 1974. Does economic growth improve the human lot? Some empirical evidence. In Nations and households in economic growth: Essays in honor of Moses Abramovitz, eds. David, P. A. and Reder, M. W., 89125. New York and London: Academic Press.
Easterlin, R. A. 2002, Introduction to Happiness in Economics, ed. Easterlin. Cheltenham UK, Northampton MA, USA: Edward Elgar.
Esposito, A. and Zaleski, P.. 1999. Economic freedom and the quality of life. Constitutional Political Economy 10: 185–97.
Frank, R. 1985. Choosing the right pond. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Frank, R. 1997. The frame of reference as a public good. Economic Journal 107: 1832–47.
Frank, R. 1999. Luxury fever. Why money fails to satisfy in an era of excess. New York: The Free Press.
Frankfurt, H. 1971. Freedom of the will and the concept of a person. Journal of Philosophy 68: 520.
Frey, B. 1997. Not just for money. An economic theory of personal motivation. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
Frey, B. and Stutzer, A.. 2000. Happiness, economy, and institutions. Economic Journal 110: 918–38.
Frey, B. and Stutzer, A.. 2002. Happiness and economics. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.
Glaeser, E. L. 2005. Paternalism and psychology. Harvard Institute of Economic Research, Discussion Paper no. 2097: 1–21. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.
Griffin, J. 1986. Well-Being: Its meaning, measurements, and moral importance. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Hardin, R. 1999. Liberalism, constitutionalism, and democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Inglehart, R. 2004. Subjective Well-Being Rankings of 82 Societies. http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org
Kahneman, D. 1999. Objective knowledge. In Well-Being: The Foundations of Hedonic Psychology, ed. Kahneman, D., Diener, E. and Schwarz, N., 325. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
Kahneman, D., Diener, E. and Schwarz, N., eds. 1999. Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
Kant, I. 1969. Foundations of the metaphysics of morals, trans. by Lewis, White Beck. New York: Macmillan.
Kraut, R. 1979. Two conceptions of happiness. Philosophical Review 88: 167–97.
Layard, R. 1980. Human satisfactions and public policy. Economic Journal 90: 737–50.
Layard, R. 2003. Happiness: Has social science a clue? Three Lectures. First lecture: What is Happiness?; second lecture: Income and Happiness: Rethinking Economic Policy; third lecture: What Would Make a Happier Society. Lionel Robbins Memorial Lectures, mimeo.
Layard, R. 2005. Happiness. Lessons from a New Science. London: Penguin Books.
MacIntyre, A. 1984. After virtue. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.
Mill, J.S. 1859 [1991]. On Liberty, ed. Gray, J. and Smith, G.W.. London: Routledge.
Ng, Y. K. 1997. A case for happiness, cardinalism, and interpersonal comparability. The Economic Journal 107: 1848–58.
Nussbaum, M. 1986. The fragility of goodness: Luck and ethics in Greek tragedy and philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Nussbaum, M. 1988. Nature, function, and capabilities: Aristotle on political distribution. In Oxford studies in ancient philosophy, Supplementary Volume, ed. Annas, J. and Grimm, R. H.., 145–84. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Pigou, A. C. 1932. The economics of welfare. 4th edn. London: Macmillan.
Praag, B. and Frijters, P. 1999. The measurement of welfare and well-being: The Leyden approach. In Well-Being: The Foundations of Hedonic Psychology, ed. Kahneman, D., Diener, E. and Schwarz, N., 413–33. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
Putnam, R. 1993. Making democracy work. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Putnam, R. 2000. Bowling alone. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Raz, J. 1986. The morality of freedom. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Rescher, N. 1961. On the logic of presupposition. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 21: 521–7.
Sen, A. 1985. The standard of living: Concepts and critiques. In The Tanner Lectures, ed. Hawthorn, G.., 19. Cambridge: Clare Hall.
Sumner, L.W. 1996. Welfare, happiness, and ethics. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Veenhoven, R. 1984. Conditions of happiness. Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Kluwer.
Veenhoven, R. 1993. Happiness in nations: Appreciation of life in 56 nations. Rotterdam: Erasmus University.
Veenhoven, R. 2000. Freedom and happiness: a comparative study in 44 nations in the early 1990s. In Culture and subjective well-being, ed. Diener, E. and Suh, E. M., 257–88. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Veenhoven, R. 2005. State of nations, world database. http://worlddatabaseofhappines.eur.nl

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed