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Contribution Details

Type Working Paper
Scope Discipline-based scholarship
Title Do People Seek to Maximize Their Subjective Well‐Being?
Organization Unit
  • Marc Fleurbaey
  • Hannes Schwandt
  • English
Institution University of Zurich
Series Name IZA Discussion Paper
Number 9450
Date 2015
Abstract Text In a new survey we ask respondents, after a standard Subjective Well‐Being (SWB) question, if they can think of changes in their lives that would improve their SWB score. If the SWB score is just one argument among others in the respondents’ goals in life, they should easily find ways to improve it, at the expense of other dimensions they care about. Our results suggest that close to 90% of the respondents actually seek to maximize their SWB. The life satisfaction question appears the best contender as the “maximand” in the contest, before the ladder‐of‐life question and felt happiness. Among the other goals that people pursue and for which they are willing to sacrifice some of their SWB, the prominent appear to be about their relatives and about their future self.
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