What Good is Happiness?

OPHI Working Papers
In this paper we examine whether, and how, welfare economics should incorporate some insights from happiness and satisfaction studies. Our main point, based on the principle of respecting the individuals’ judgments about their own lives, is that one should not focus on reported satisfaction levels but on the ordinal preferences reported by individuals over the various dimensions of life. We illustrate with data from the Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey (RLMS) how to retrieve this information from happiness surveys.
Authors: Marc Fleurbaey, Erik Schokkaert and Koen Decancq
Year: 2008

Citation: Fleurbaey, M., Schokkaert, E. and Decancq K. (2008). 'What good is happiness?', OPHI Working Paper 20, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), University of Oxford.

Also published as a CORE Discussion Paper 17, 2009, Université catholique de Louvain.

happiness, satisfaction, preferences, welfare economics, psychology
Europe and Central Asia


Marc Fleurbaey, Erik Schokkaert and Koen Decancq

Series Name
OPHI Working Papers
Publication date
Publication Number
WP 20