Why unhappiness is more revealing than happiness

Measures of happiness tell us less than economics of unhappiness

Over the past 20 years or so, the study of the economics of happiness has boomed. By contrast, the economics of unhappiness has been almost entirely neglected. The neglect of happiness is not simply a quirk of nomenclature, like the use of “health economics” to describe a field that is almost entirely concerned with responses to illness and disability. The central problem in the economics of happiness has been to determine how people’s answers to questions of the form “How happy are you?” are related to economic variables like income and employment. Unhappiness is never considered, except as the absence of happiness. Even the most basic results of the economic theory of happiness are, to a substantial extent, spurious artefacts of the analytical framework rather than genuine facts about how people experience happiness. ….[READ]

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