Ec 970: The Economics of Happiness - Instructor




Course Description: Economists who study subjective well-being use the methodological and empirical tools of economics to understand how material welfare along with other life factors affect measures of people's self-reported happiness. How should we measure an individual's subjective level of happiness, and how should we incorporate a variety of these self-reported measures into common economic models of utility maximization and policy evaluation? In this course, we will explore the complicated relationships between traditional economic indicators and measures of subjective well-being in order to more fully understand, as economists, what makes people happy. Some key questions we will explore are: How do/should we measure happiness? Can money buy happiness? What does the research on psychological phenomena and behavioral quirks imply for our happiness goals as economists? What is the relationship between happiness and social capital - like family, friends, and our broader civic environments? How does someone's subjective well-being affect their productivity (and other economic outcomes)? How do cultural factors and differences in politics affect measures of subjective well-being? What effects do physical and mental health have on our day-to-day experiences as well as our overall life satisfaction? The course draws heavily on research in psychology and behavioral economics, and will also introduce students to a wide variety of empirical data on subjective well-being.

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