Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 343–347 | Cite as

A Different Rationale for Redistribution: A Comment

  • Christian BjørnskovEmail author

Introduction–What Do Cullis et al. Do?

John Cullis, John Hudson and Philip Jones (2009) set out to provide an answer for an old question: Is there a role for redistribution to increase average happiness? First, they start by outlining a more modern, advanced version of the piece of economic theory sometimes referred to as the ‘Lerner argument’, a simple version of which was first brought forward by Abba Lerner (1944). This careful outline of modern theory, including effects arising out of individual peer-group comparisons, suggests a clear rationale for redistribution through progressive taxation and regressive transfers.

Second, estimating the individual-level determinants of life satisfaction/happiness in a large sample covering the EU-15 countries from the EuroBarometer, Cullis et al. nonetheless find no evidence of a robust effect of redistribution through regressive transfers, contrary to the theory they carefully lay out in their paper, as the evidence for a convex income effect...


Comparison Theory Country Fixed Effect Clear Rationale Average Happiness Income Position 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Bjørnskov, C., Datta Gupta, N., & Pedersen, P. J. (2008). Analyzing trends in subjective well-being in 15 European countries, 1973–2002. Journal of Happiness Studies, 9, 317–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cullis, J., Hudson, J., & Jones, P. (2009). A different rationale for redistribution: pursuit of happiness in the European Union. Journal of Happiness Studies, this issue.Google Scholar
  3. Easterlin, R. A. (2001). Income and happiness: Towards a unified theory. The Economic Journal, 111, 465–484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Frey, B., & Stutzer, A. (2002). Happiness and economics: How the economy and institutions affect human well-being. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Layard, R. (2005). Happiness: Lessons from a new science. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  6. Lerner, A. P. (1944). The economics of control: Principles of welfare economics. New York: MacMillan.Google Scholar
  7. Napier, J. L., & Jost, J. T. (2008). Why are some conservatives happier than liberals? Psychological Science, 19, 565–572.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Schwarze, J., & Härpfer, M. (2007). Are people inequality averse, and do they prefer redistribution by the state? Evidence from German longitudinal data on life satisfaction. Journal of Socio-Economics, 36, 233–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Stutzer, A. (2004). The role of income aspirations in individual happiness. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 54, 89–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics, Aarhus School of BusinessAarhus UniversityÅbyhøjDenmark

Personalised recommendations