Why Happiness?: A Commentary on Griffith's Progressive Taxation and Happiness

12 Pages Posted: 21 Apr 2005  

Diane M. Ring

Boston College - Law School

Abstract

This Commentary examines three issues raised in Professor Thomas G. Griffith's Article on the connection between progressive taxation and subjective well-being, focusing on the selection of happiness as the measure of the gains of redistribution, the ability to measure happiness or subjective well-being, and the implications of using happiness in determining tax policy. After arguing that the progressive taxation debate would benefit from further exploration of why happiness is the appropriate measure of success, this Commentary raises concerns about relying on self-reporting of subjective well-being and how happiness studies should be interpreted and can be improved. Finally, this Commentary notes that studies of income and happiness may inform tax policy design by helping to determine the appropriate balance between taxes and expenditures, outlining a role for the government in informing taxpayer's perceptions of happiness, and focusing additional research necessary for an effective progressive taxation policy.

Keywords: Progressive taxation, happiness, progressivity, redistribution

JEL Classification: A13

Suggested Citation

Ring, Diane M., Why Happiness?: A Commentary on Griffith's Progressive Taxation and Happiness. Boston College Law Review, Vol. 45, No. 5, p. 1413-1424, 2004. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=703804

Diane M. Ring (Contact Author)

Boston College - Law School ( email )

885 Centre Street
Newton, MA 02459-1163
United States

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