The use of happiness research for public policy

We show that the policy approach matters for the choice of research questions and the kind of knowledge happiness research aims to provide

Bruno S. Frey

2011

Scholarcy highlights

  • Research on happiness1 has spurred a lively debate on new directions in public policy
  • We inquire how the results of happiness research may be used to improve the choice of institutions at the constitutional level as well as the outcomes of the current politico-economic process at the post-constitutional level
  • The constitutional approach to happiness policy recognizes that the compensation principle to be applied in a particular case by the courts cannot be determined in the current politico-economic process, because the individuals have a stake in the outcome and answer strategically
  • With every reform restricted the access to benefits, the government automatically reduced the official rate of unemployment. This contribution argues that the constitutional approach to political economy helps us to understand how the insights of happiness research can be used in public policy
  • At the constitutional level behind the veil of uncertainty, the fundamental rules and institutions are set which determine the decisions taken in the current politico-economic process
  • The constitutional approach does not need to assume that individuals are perfectly rational
  • Individuals who are aware of their own cognitive and motivational limitations, and those of others, will be able choose the appropriate rules governing yet unknown future decisions in which they might get involved

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