The Use of Happiness Research for Public Policy

20 Pages Posted: 23 Oct 2013

See all articles by Bruno S. Frey

Bruno S. Frey

CREMA; University of Basel

Alois Stutzer

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

Date Written: October 22, 2013

Abstract

Research on happiness tends to follow a “benevolent dictator” approach where politicians pursue people’s happiness. This paper takes an antithetic approach based on the insights of public choice theory. First, we inquire how the results of happiness research may be used to improve the choice of institutions. Second, we show that the policy approach matters for the choice of research questions and the kind of knowledge happiness research aims to provide. Third, we emphasize that there is no shortcut to an optimal policy maximizing some happiness indicator or social welfare function since governments have an incentive to manipulate this indicator.

Suggested Citation

Frey, Bruno S. and Stutzer, Alois, The Use of Happiness Research for Public Policy (October 22, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2343616 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2343616

Bruno S. Frey (Contact Author)

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

Alois Stutzer

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

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