Human Wellbeing and Economic Goals

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What are the ends of economic activity? According to neoclassical theory, efficient interaction of the profit-maximizing "ideal-producer" and the utility-maximizing "ideal consumer" will eventually lead to some sort of social optimum. But is that social optimum the same as human well-being? This volume addresses that issue, considering such questions as: does the maximization of individual welfare really lead to social welfare?; how can we deal with questions of relative welfare?; and how can these things be measured, or even assessed? The book brings together more than 75 concise summaries of literature in the field that consider issues of present and future individual and social welfare, national development, consumption and equity. Like its predecessors in the "Frontier Issues in Economic Thought" series, it takes a multidisciplinary approach to economic concerns, examining their sociological, philosophical and psychological aspects and implications as well as their economic underpinnings. It offers an introduction to the current and historical writings that examine the concept of human well-being in ways that can help us to set goals for economic activity and judge its success.

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Island Press
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