Sunday, July 18, 2010

Frey and Stutzer - Happiness and Public Choice.

Bruno S. Frey1, 2 Contact Information and Alois Stutzer2, 3
(1)  Institute for Empirical Research in Economics, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 30, 8006 Zurich, Switzerland
(2)  CREMA—Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts, 4052 Basel, Switzerland
(3)  University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
Received: 20 April 2010  Accepted: 9 June 2010  Published online: 2 July 2010
Measuring individual welfare using data on reported subjective well-being has made great progress. It offers a new way of confronting public choice hypotheses with field data, e.g., with respect to partisan preferences or rents in the public bureaucracy. Insights from public choice also help to assess the role of happiness measures in public policy. We emphasize that maximizing aggregate happiness as a social welfare function neglects incentive problems and political institutions while citizens are reduced to metric stations. The goal of happiness research should be to improve the nature of the processes through which individuals can express their preferences.
Keywords  Economic policy - Happiness - Life satisfaction - Public choice - Social welfare

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