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Would you choose to be happy? Tradeoffs betweenhappiness and the other dimensions of life in a largepopulation survey

Adler, Matthew D., Dolan, Paul and Kavetsos, Georgios (2015) Would you choose to be happy? Tradeoffs betweenhappiness and the other dimensions of life in a largepopulation survey. CEP Discussion Paper (1366). London School of Economics and Political Science. Centre for Economic Performance, London, UK.

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A large literature documents the correlates and causes of subjective well-being, or happiness. But few studies have investigated whether people choose happiness. Is happiness all that people want from life, or are they willing to sacrifice it for other attributes, such as income and health? Tackling this question has largely been the preserve of philosophers. In this article, we find out just how much happiness matters to ordinary citizens. Our sample consists of nearly 13,000 members of the UK and US general populations. We ask them to choose between, and make judgments over, lives that are high (or low) in different types of happiness and low (or high) in income, physical health, family, career success, or education. We find that people by and large choose the life that is highest in happiness but health is by far the most important other concern, with considerable numbers of people choosing to be healthy rather than happy. We discuss some possible reasons for this preference

Item Type: Monograph (Discussion Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2015 The Authors.
Divisions: Social Policy
Centre for Economic Performance
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
JEL classification: D - Microeconomics > D6 - Welfare Economics
H - Public Economics > H0 - General > H00 - General
I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I0 - General > I00 - General
I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I3 - Welfare and Poverty > I31 - General Welfare; Basic Needs; Living Standards; Quality of Life; Happiness
Date Deposited: 25 Aug 2015 09:53
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 12:06
Projects: P30-AG024928
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council, National Institute on Aging

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