nep-hap New Economics Papers
on Economics of Happiness
Issue of 2023‒08‒14
four papers chosen by

  1. The Economics of Wellbeing and Psychology: An Historical and Methodological Viewpoint By Drakopoulos, Stavros A.
  2. Weather Shocks and Perceptions of Relative Well-Being By Chakraborty, Judhajit
  3. Ethics and technique in welfare economics: How welfarism evolves in the making By Antoinette Baujard
  4. Are the Upwardly-Mobile More Left-Wing? By Clark, Andrew E.; Cotofan, Maria

  1. By: Drakopoulos, Stavros A.
    Abstract: Job satisfaction and life satisfaction research (economics of wellbeing) is an established and booming research field. However, until the late 1970s, the study of the impact of economic variables on subjective wellbeing was considered to be outside the domain of economics. The main reason was the methodological hostility of orthodox economists towards incorporating "subjective" and "psychological" variables. The legacy of economics as a positive social science that dealt with observed or revealed behavior only, was a major obstacle for economists to study subjective wellbeing. The main exception was the pioneering work of Richard Easterlin in 1974, who attempted to account for the discrepancy between income increases and overall life satisfaction. Opening up the communication of economists with psychologists in happiness research, Easterlin relied on references from psychology and especially from social psychology in order to construct his arguments. Influenced by Easterlin, references to theoretical and empirical work in psychology became more apparent when happiness economics attracted more interest by the end of the 20th century. After showing its rich historical past of interaction with psychology, the paper argues that this stance is contrary to the established mainstream tradition and methodology. Further, it demonstrates that leading figures of happiness economics adopt a conscious methodological position towards interacting with psychology, and this puts them at odds with the mainstream economics methodological approach. It is also argued that the economics of happiness attitude towards psychology is linked to other important differences of methodological nature. The paper identifies three major points of diversion: utility cardinality and comparability, empirical methodology, and the specification of agents’ utility function and the ensuing policy implications.
    Keywords: Economics and Psychology; Economics of Wellbeing; Economic Methodology; History of Economic Thought
    JEL: B20 B40 I30
    Date: 2023–07
  2. By: Chakraborty, Judhajit
    Keywords: International Development, Institutional and Behavioral Economics, International Development
    Date: 2023
  3. By: Antoinette Baujard (GATE Lyon Saint-Étienne - Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique Lyon - Saint-Etienne - ENS de Lyon - École normale supérieure de Lyon - UL2 - Université Lumière - Lyon 2 - UCBL - Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 - Université de Lyon - UJM - Université Jean Monnet - Saint-Étienne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Abstract: Under welfarism, assertions such as "this social state is better than an alternative" or "this policy should be enacted" are based on the assumption that social welfare ultimately depends only on the well-being of individuals. A normative analysis of welfarism seeks to provide a transparent description of the basis upon which welfarism makes its value judgements, which is equivalent to an investigation into its choice of a preferred notion of well-being. Such an investigation, this paper claims, can take two forms, which we should distinguish: the ethical analysis of welfarism is concerned with the appeal to a given ethical theory of well-being; and the technical analysis of welfarism concerns the specific measure of individual utility that in practice is used to measure social welfare. Reviewing a series of claims which bear on how these two versions of welfarism are articulated (the standard, proxy, evidential and tension claims), the paper explores the differences between the ethical and technical approaches in the normative interpretation of welfarist assertions.
    Abstract: Dans le cadre d'étude welfariste, des affirmations telles que "cet état social est meilleur que tel autre état social" ou "cette politique devrait être promulguée" reposent sur l'hypothèse que le bien-être social ne dépend que du bien-être des individus et de rien d'autre. Une analyse normative du welfarisme vise à fournir une description transparente des jugements de valeur impliqués dans ces évaluations et ces recommandations, ce qui revient à s'interroger en particulier sur la notion du bien-être qui a été retenue. Cette enquête normative peut prendre deux formes et cet article défend l'idée qu'il convient de les distinguer : l'analyse éthique du welfarisme concerne le recours à une théorie éthique donnée du bien-être ; et l'analyse technique du welfarisme concerne la mesure de l'utilité individuelle qui est utilisée en pratique pour mesurer ce bien-être social. L'article passe en revue successivement quatre points de vue type portant sur l'articulation de ces deux versions du welfarisme : le point de vue standard, de l'approximation, de la preuve et de la tension. En étudiant l'interprétation normative des affirmations welfaristes, il explore les différences qui émergent entre les approches éthique et technique.
    Keywords: Welfare Economics, Welfarism, Ethics, Practice, Ethical welfarism, Technical welfarism, Demarcation, Neutrality, Non-Neutrality, Axiological transparency, Value judgements
    Date: 2022
  4. By: Clark, Andrew E. (Paris School of Economics); Cotofan, Maria (King's College London)
    Abstract: It is well-known that the wealthier are more likely to have Right-leaning political preferences. We here in addition consider the role of the individual's starting position, and in particular their upward social mobility relative to their parents. In 18 waves of UK panel data, both own and parental social status are independently positively associated with Rightleaning voting and political preferences: given their own social status, the upwardly-mobile are therefore more Left-wing. We investigate a number of potential mediators: these results do not reflect the relationship between well-being and own and parents' social status, but are rather linked to the individual's beliefs about how fair society is.
    Keywords: social mobility, voting, redistribution, satisfaction, fairness
    JEL: A14 C25 D31 D63 J28 J62
    Date: 2023–07

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