Should National Happiness Be Maximized?

Zurich IEER Working Paper No. 306

19 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2006

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: March 2007

Abstract

Cross-disciplinary 'happiness research' has made big progress in the measurement of individual welfare. This development makes it tempting to pursue the old dream of maximizing aggregate happiness as a social welfare function. However, we postulate that the appropriate approach is not to maximize aggregate happiness in seeking to improve outcomes by direct policy interventions. The goal of happiness research should rather be to improve the nature of the processes through which individuals can express their preferences. Individuals should become better able to advance their idea of the good life, both individually and collectively.

Keywords: Economic policy, happiness, life satisfaction, political economy, social welfare

JEL Classification: D60, D70, H11, I31

Suggested Citation

Frey, Bruno S. and Stutzer, Alois, Should National Happiness Be Maximized? (March 2007). Zurich IEER Working Paper No. 306. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=936289 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.936289

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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