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Political economy of happiness

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Happiness research has been a great success by yielding new and important insights. 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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Keywords: A10; D70; H11; I31; I38; government policy; happiness; manipulation; political economy; well-being

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Economics, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

Publication date: 2013-10-01

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