Recent Developments in the Economics of Happiness: A Selective Overview

19 Pages Posted: 22 Dec 2012

See all articles by Alois Stutzer

Alois Stutzer

University of Basel - Faculty of Business and Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Bruno S. Frey

CREMA; University of Basel

Abstract

What makes people happy in life? This is a crucial question that has the potential to shake up economics. In recent years, the dissatisfaction with the understanding of welfare in economics together with the new opportunities to empirically study people's subjective wellbeing have spurred impressive and stimulating new research in the often called dismal science. The economics of happiness has emerged as one of the most thriving areas in current economic research.This introductory chapter refers to important contributions to the economics of happiness that characterize the recent developments in the area. First, we refer to reviews of the literature, the measurement and the relationship of happiness research to welfare economics. Second, we emphasize four factors from the large literature on the determinants of happiness in economics, i.e. income, employment, social capital and health. In fact, the main body of research in this new area is on the preconditions or covariates of high individual well-being. Third, important studies applying the so-called Life Satisfaction Approach as an alternative valuation approach are discussed. Fourth, we point to contributions that elaborate on the understanding of utility in terms of people's adaptation to circumstances and their difficulties in predicting future utility. Fifth, we provide references to the controversial question regarding the policy consequences of this new development.

Keywords: happiness, individual welfare, Life Satisfaction Approach, subjective well-being

JEL Classification: I31

Suggested Citation

Stutzer, Alois and Frey, Bruno S., Recent Developments in the Economics of Happiness: A Selective Overview. IZA Discussion Paper No. 7078. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2192854

Alois Stutzer (Contact Author)

University of Basel - Faculty of Business and Economics ( email )

Peter Merian-Weg 6
4002 Basel
Switzerland
0041 61 267 3361 (Phone)
0041 61 267 3340 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.wwz.unibas.ch/stutzer/

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Bruno S. Frey

CREMA ( email )

Südstrasse 11
Zurich, CH 8008
Switzerland
+41 44 380 00 78 (Phone)

University of Basel ( email )

Peter Merian-Weg 6
Basel, 4002
Switzerland

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