chapter  6
Are we heading for a ‘joyless economy’? A new look at Scitovsky’s concern
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In fact, these explanations are based on certain psychological mechanisms – such as people’s inclination to compare their own consumption with that of others – which are taken as given in the Economics of Happiness. Scitovsky instead argued that these psychological mechanisms are especially activated as compensation for the lack of ability to appreciate and pursue creative activity. The present chapter is organised as follows: Section 6.2 reviews recent evidence on the trends in people’s well-being (and ill-being) in the USA and other countries, thus ascertaining the risk that a serious problem exists; Section 6.3 focuses on both the analysis and recent evidence on how the family, economic conditions, and in particular the labour market weaken the development of people’s life skill so that well-being becomes vulnerable; Section 6.4 shows how the most common explanations of the Easterlin paradox can be seen as special cases of a more general one. Two Appendices at the end of the book are devoted to formal matters: the case of a child’s development of life skill, and the substitution of creative activity with comfort and addiction.