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Would you choose to be happy? Tradeoffs between happiness and the other dimensions of life in a large population survey

Adler, Matthew D. and Dolan, Paul and Kavetsos, Georgios (2017) Would you choose to be happy? Tradeoffs between happiness and the other dimensions of life in a large population survey. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 139. pp. 60-73. ISSN 0167-2681

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.jebo.2017.05.006


A large literature documents the determinants of happiness. But is happiness all that people want from life; and if so, what type of happiness matters to them? Or are they willing to sacrifice happiness (however it is defined) for other attributes in their lives? We show direct evidence that individuals trade-off levels of happiness with levels of income, physical health, family, career success and education in a large sample of UK and US individuals. On average, all types of happiness are preferred to other attributes except health. People prefer affective happiness (feeling good) over evaluative (life satisfaction) and eudaimonic (worthwhileness) components. This result is robust to methodological innovations, such as the use of vignettes and judgements of the lives described.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 Elsevier B. V.
Divisions: Social Policy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
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
Sets: Departments > Social Policy
Date Deposited: 12 May 2017 11:54
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2017 14:01
Projects: P30 AG024928
Funders: National Institutes of Health

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