Human Needs and the Measurement of Welfare

Wolfgang Fellner, Benedikt Göhmann

Publication: Working/Discussion PaperWU Working Paper

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Adam Smith considered consumption the sole end and purpose of all production. Concerning the measurement of welfare, this requires a sound understanding of the connection between consumption and welfare. The consumerist onceptualization of this connection implies that the amount of consumption equals welfare and the level of production can be an indicator for welfare. The limits and problems of production measures are widely accepted. Yet, indicators like GDP remain the focus of mainstream economic theory and policy. We trace the origin of this lock-in back to the economic model of behaviour and the concept of agency in mainstream economics. The suggested alternative stems from literature about human needs in heterodox economics and psychology. This literature incorporates the relevance of social aspects and cultural change for welfare. It turns out that consumerism can be a threat to well-being and welfare
rather than a requirement for it.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationVienna
PublisherWU Vienna University of Economics and Business
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017

Publication series

SeriesSRE - Discussion Papers

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 502027 Political economy
  • 502047 Economic theory
  • 502022 Sustainable economics

WU Working Paper Series

  • SRE - Discussion Papers

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