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Curiously, economists, whose discipline has much to do with human well-being, have shied away from factoring the study of happiness into their work. Happiness, they might say, is an ''unscientific'' concept. This is the first book to establish empirically the link between happiness and economics—and between happiness and democracy. Two respected economists, Bruno S. Frey and Alois Stutzer, integrate insights and findings from psychology, where attempts to measure quality of life are well-documented, as well as from sociology and political science. They demonstrate how micro- and macro-economic conditions in the form of income, unemployment, and inflation affect happiness. The research is centered on Switzerland, whose varying degrees of direct democracy from one canton to another, all within a single economy, allow for political effects to be isolated from economic effects.
Not surprisingly, the authors confirm that unemployment and inflation nurture unhappiness. Their most striking revelation, however, is that the more developed the democratic institutions and the degree of local autonomy, the more satisfied people are with their lives. While such factors as rising income increase personal happiness only minimally, institutions that facilitate more individual involvement in politics (such as referendums) have a substantial effect. For countries such as the United States, where disillusionment with politics seems to be on the rise, such findings are especially significant. By applying econometrics to a real-world issue of general concern and yielding surprising results, Happiness and Economics promises to spark healthy debate over a wide range of the social sciences.
"With commendable expertise [the authors] integrate explanations of human well-being from psychology, sociology and political science with the few studies of happiness that have been undertaken by economists. . . . Frey and Stutzer support the unfashionable proposition that subjective well-being is indeed something that economists can and should study, and they marshal a strong case in favor of this view."—David Throsby, Times Literary Supplement
"A major breakthrough in economic research."—R.E. Lane, Journal of Economics
PART I: Setting the Stage
CHAPTER 1: Happiness 3
CHAPTER 2: Well-Being and Economics 19
CHAPTER 3: Personality and Socio-Demograohic Influences on happiness 49
PART II: Economic Effects on Happiness
CHAPTER 4: Income 73
CHAPTER 5: Employment 95
CHAPTER 6: Inflation 111
PART III: Political Effects on Happiness
CHAPTER 7: The Current Politico-Economic Process 121
CHAPTER 8: Constitution: Popular Referenda and Federalism 133
CHAPTER 9: Outcome and Process 153
PART IV: Conclusions
CHAPTER 10: Happiness Inspires Economics 171
APPENDIX A 185
APPENDIX B 191
Data Sources 215
Posted August 15, 2005
This is a book of excellent insight and originality that will be accessible primarily to scholars. Authors and economists Bruno S. Frey and Alois Stutzer explore the uncharted terrain of happiness. They teach that happiness is fundamental to economics, although economists disagree about what happiness is and how to measure it. The authors emphasize the importance of intangible, subjective factors in happiness, and bring a good deal of psychological research into the discussion of how economic circumstances affect happiness. They offer surprising evidence and conclusions, such as the facts that the old and the young are almost equally happy, and that a rising income ceases to increase happiness after clearing a relatively low hurdle. We recommend this book to the advanced specialists on economics and psychology for whom it was written, with the caveat that its dry academic style will not bring happiness to the intrigued but nonexpert reader.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.