Theory Seminar

Bruno Frey

Warwick University

8-Nov-2012

Seminar 3 – 14:30

Abstract

Happiness research has been a great success by yielding new and important insights. My presentation intends to provide an evaluation of where the economic research on happiness stands and in which interesting directions it might develop. I discuss the current state of the research on happiness in economics. The survey section is on purpose kept short, mainly because the authors recently provided an extensive review in a journal and in two books (Frey and Stutzer 2002a,b, Frey 2008). I want to indicate the general flavor, and to direct the audience not familiar with the approach to the relevant research results. These results are often used in a technocratic manner: Governments should maximize, or at least raise, the subjective well-being of the population measured by the national happiness index. Yet the government has strong incentives and a wide range of possibilities to manipulate this index to its advantage. Happiness policy must be part of the normal democratic process where divergent views are considered and aggregated. In particular, competition between parties is a prerequisite for the insights from happiness research put to the benefit of the citizens.

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