Homo Economicus and Happiness: Towards More Sustainable Development

  • Martin BinderEmail author


Sustainable development is often seen through the lens of the standard income-based welfare framework which neglects insights from the “Beyond GDP” debate. This chapter suggests ways in which a subjective well-being framework can enrich sustainability economics. Drawing on Richard Easterlin’s insights and replacing homo economicus with homo felix in theories of sustainable behaviour does not prompt excessive consumerism but rather fosters concerns for altruism and justice in regard to future generations and nature. On the micro-level, individuals derive lasting well-being from doing good and leading responsible, sustainable lifestyles. On the societal level, policy-makers can use a subjective well-being framework to more coherently incorporate ideas of sustainable development, civic consumerism and well-being.


subjective well-being Sustainability Beyond GDP Sustainable development 



The author is grateful for helpful comments and suggestions to Ann-Kathrin Blankenberg and seminar participants at the universities of Vechta and Marburg. All errors are mine.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bard College BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, Blithewood, Bard CollegeAnnandale-on-HudsonUSA

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