Spring 2011

Consumption and the Pursuit of Happiness 

Listed in: Economics, as ECON-35


Daniel P. Barbezat (Section 01)


In the Declaration of Independence, the Founders called the “pursuit of happiness” an “inalienable right,” yet both psychologists and economists have noted that we do not well understand the determinants of the attainment of happiness or contentment. In this course, we will examine the literature on well-being in both micro- and macroeconomic contexts. We will review the neoclassical model of utility maximization and contrast it to other modes of understanding how and why people make the decisions they do, as they pursue their happiness. On the macroeconomic side, we will attempt to understand what factors (e.g. growth, unemployment, inflation) seem most important for policy-makers to focus on in order to sustain their citizens' well-being. The course will also include opportunities for students to examine their own consumption decisions and assumptions about the attainment of happiness.

Requisite: Economics 11.  Limited to 50 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Barbezat.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2022