On these pages you will find information about my
research interest happiness, economics, development, and ethics.
The basic intuition underlying
my research is the overwhelming impression that we are doing a poor job
transforming economic progress into good development. While incomes have
multiplied many-fold over the last decades and centuries in most of the
richer societies, it seems that people have not become happier as a
This observation gives rise to at least two distinct questions:
First, why is it that we are not becoming happier? Economists,
not entirely unreasonably, take it for granted that economic growth gives rise to
higher well-being—objective and subjective—because it is supposed to increases our
range of choices. As long as we use the additional income to buy things we
like, we should end up happier than before. Yet, empirical studies
consistently refute this hypothesis. What mechanisms are responsible for
this counterintuitive result? Are there ways to put our increased
economic potential to better uses?
These (positive) questions have been investigated—with considerable success—in
particular by psychologists and economists.
Second, how can we judge whether a given path of development is
good or bad, better or worse? Whether a society should, and could,
do better? Which of two societies is enjoying a higher degree of
well-being? In thinking about these (normative) questions, happiness
seems to be a particularly promising concept, even though there is certainly more
to good development than happiness alone. Any attempt to answer these
questions must necessarily be ethical in nature.