Enjoying life takes time and needs people (by Maurizio Pugno, MPRA working paper)

People gain enjoyment from exercising their agency and interacting with others in order to accomplish projects and change reality, as is evident from the successful evolution of homo sapiens. Hence, time can be enjoyable in both pursuing and achieving socially valued goals. Since modern economic progress offers products in growing abundance, thus increasingly exploiting individuals’ time and interaction, people are tempted to seek enjoyment in another way, i.e. in consumption itself, as homo economicus would suggest. On the basis of various evidence, the paper argues that people can choose between these two ways leading to well-being; that the homo economicus way is less effective or even perverse; and that economic progress weakens people’s skill to undertake the homo sapiens way. These arguments help explain why the economy of a country, such as the USA, can grow over decades whereas its citizens become less able to enjoy their lives.

Published in MPRA Paper No. 104378 (downloadable)

Structural changes in economic growth and well-being. The case of Italy’s parabola (by Maurizio Pugno and Francesco Sarracino – MPRA working paper)

diagram-on-swb-in-Italy 1

The controversies on the relationship (or `gradient’) between GDP and subjective well-being oppose those who claim that the gradient is positive and stable around the world to those who argue that long-run trends of subjective well-being are flat despite economic growth. The possible existence of structural breaks of the gradient within the same country is a challenge to both views. By focusing on the case of Italy, we show that the long-run trends of GDP and of well-being turned from increasing to decreasing, and the gradient exhibits a rise through two structural breaks. Macro and micro analyses explain why the gradient changes, and we find evidence consistent with the `loss aversion’ hypothesis. In addition, the gradient changed because the erosion of trust in others, the increase of financial dissatisfaction and worsened health hinder well-being independently from income.

Paper published as working paper, and then submitted and under revision (R&R).