Happiness: a revolution in economics

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MIT Press, 2008 - Business & Economics - 240 pages
1 Review
Revolutionary developments in economics are rare. The conservative bias of the field and its enshrined knowledge make it difficult to introduce new ideas not in line with received theory. Happiness research, however, has the potential to change economics substantially. Its findings, which are gradually being taken into account in standard economics, can be considered revolutionary in three respects: the measurement of experienced utility using psychologists' tools for measuring subjective well-being, new insights into how human beings value goods and services and social conditions that include consideration of such non-material values as autonomy and social relations, and policy consequences of these new insights that suggest different ways for government to affect individual well-being. In Happiness, Bruno Frey, emphasizing empirical evidence rather than theoretical conjectures, substantiates these three revolutionary claims for happiness research.

After tracing the major developments of happiness research in economics and demonstrating that we have gained important new insights into how income, unemployment, inflation, and income demonstration affect well-being, Frey examines democracy and federalism, self-employment and volunteer work, marriage, terrorism, and watching television from the new perspective of happiness research. Turning to policy implications, Frey describes how government can provide the conditions under which people can achieve well-being, arguing that effective political institutions and decentralized decision making play crucial roles. Happiness demonstrates the achievements of the economic happiness revolution and points the way to future research.

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Review: Happiness: A Revolution in Economics

User Review  - Robb Seaton - Goodreads

The book is a bit of a slog and most of the arguments that Frey presents are not that well developed. On the positive side, I found the section on public attitudes regarding fairness very interesting, and Frey provides tons of useful references to existing literature. Read full review


Pushing Ahead
Procedural Utility
Mispredicting Utility

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About the author (2008)

Bruno S. Frey is Professor of Economics at the University of Zurich, Visiting Professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and Research Director of CREMA (Center for Research in Economics, Management, and the Arts). He is co-editor of Economics and Psychology: A Promising New Cross-Disciplinary Field(MIT Press, 2007).

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