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Title: Happiness and economic policies
Author: Teng, Joshua Chen-Yuan
ISNI:       0000 0004 2700 3308
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2010
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Some modern happiness economists, such as Layard and Frank, propose a policy of collectively reducing hours at work, based on the assumption that concern about status is a fundamental property of human nature. However, psychologists who subscribe to the self-determination theory (SDT) and personality studies find that the attitude of social comparison is inherently incompatible with the psychological process of happiness, and suggest that people should change their competitive attitudes. In line with these psychologists, the political philosopher Rawls and the political economist Frey argue that fair and just institutions could cultivate non-envious attitudes, which can then enhance happiness. Their policies are compatible with psychological theories, since these policies provide people psychological needs proposed by the SDT- autonomy, competence and relatedness. I therefore conclude in my psychological analysis of happiness policies in Chapter 2 that Rawls's and Frey's policy can increase happiness while Layard's policy cannot help extreme status lovers, but can help those caring about status moderately. I then test my argument empirically in Chapter 3. The results support my argument developed in Chapter 2. Moreover, there is evidence suggesting the mechanism through which Layard's policy improves happiness is not attainable for extreme status seekers: status lovers have lower quality of family life. To the contrary, the results suggest that the mechanism through which Rawls's and Frey's policy promotes happiness is plausible. Assuming that status seekers have negative marginal utility of family hours, I establish theoretical models to show the possible inefficacy of Layard's policy in Chapter 4. The model can also demonstrate that Rawls's and Frey's policy of cultivating non-envious attitude can promote happiness effectively.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available