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Beyond Needs Gratification: Happiness Economics as Human Flourishing

Jovi C. Dacanay
Senior Economist and Faculty Member
School of Economics
University of Asia and the Pacific

Mainstream economics, as it is known today, aims to maximize happiness through an efficient and effective choice and use of its human and natural resources in order to produce and distribute goods and services through mutually beneficial exchange. There is no certainty, though, that even if an efficient and effective choice and use of natural and human resources has been done that the economic outcomes of a market exchange have made the actors of a market economy, the human person, happy. Happiness is achieved when the human person achieved his/her human flourishing (Sen, 2000), described as self-determination, self-realization, a life of virtue, the pursuit and lived experience of values, happiness, a fullness of life, a certain development as a person and a meaningful existence (Finnis, 1980). Basic human goods and values can be achieved and cultivated only through interaction with other people, through the mutual exchange of benefits, an engagement in society. The result is over-all happiness which can be assessed, evaluated and measured using objective and subjective indicators of well-being.

This paper attempts to provide empirical evidence over such claims. Can economics provide an explanation towards the achievement of human flourishing? The conceptualization of happiness as human flourishing denotes that happiness is seen as the achievement of a life of virtue, a good life, viewed as a goal by the human person or agent. The study aims to achieve the following. First is to describe the relationship between life satisfaction and the gratification of basic needs, using income and the human development index. Second is to empirically verify the effect of the cognitive dimensions of human needs, along with the gratification of basic needs. Third is to explain happiness as human flourishing using objective and subjective indicators of well-being. All objectives would combine the affective and cognitive dimensions of a person’s life evaluation. Supporting literature has been gathered from economics and psychology, and both strands of literature provide, a quantitative assessment of the good life.

Using ordinary least squares and measurements of happiness from the World Values Survey (life satisfaction as contentment) and the Gallup World Poll (over-all happiness), economic variables and constructs of affect and cognition were used to explain happiness as human flourishing. The results show that although happiness is explained by objective measurements of needs gratification, and, subjective variables describing social comparisons, appraisals and affective experience, persons evaluate their life based on information which have an enduring effect. This means that although persons make social comparisons and evaluate life based on their relative perceptions of others, one’s evaluation of happiness is anchored on information which describes or captures life as a whole. Life satisfaction may be evaluated from the angle of contentment for one’s current income situation, one’s level of needs gratification, and later on, one’s capacity to act freely. But a more consistent, stable and enduring evaluation of happiness would persist from an integral notion of one’s income and basic needs, freedom, income inequality and income aspirations all of which can only be achieved and stabilized with time.

Key words: happiness, human flourishing, basic needs, income aspiration, economic freedom


Jovi C. Dacanay graduated BS Statistics, MS Industrial Economics and MA Economics and is currently pursuing her PhD Economics. She lectures in Statistics, Social Economics and Research and Thesis Seminar in the School of Economics of the University of Asia and the Pacific. Her research includes industrial organization of health care markets, microfinance, social economics and the economics of film

Presentation Slides
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2013年07月01日 12:59に投稿されたエントリーのページです。

ひとつ前の投稿は「A.D.Gasmen. R.DT.Baconguis, J.R.Medina Docs」です。

次の投稿は「Rachel Lynn Y. Belandres Docs」です。


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