Human Needs and the Measurement of Welfare

Wolfgang Fellner, Benedikt Goehmann

Publication: Working/Discussion PaperWU Working Paper


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 conceptualization 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
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017

Publication series

NameSRE - Discussion Papers

WU Working Paper Series

  • SRE - Discussion Papers

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