Coase-Sandor Working Paper Series in Law and Economics

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Law & Economics Working Papers


This paper analyzes the consequences of the findings from research into self-reported well being or happiness for taxation. It primarily considers two findings: that happiness depends on status as well as income, and that individuals may adapt to disability, exhibiting relatively small losses in happiness from disabilities. In each case, it examines how adding these concerns to standard tax models changes the results and then compares the empirical findings of the happiness literature to see whether they provide the type of data needed to parameterize the models. In both cases, the theoretical models ask for different types of data than the happiness studies emphasize. The paper also looks at Robert Frank’s arguments for a progressive consumption tax based on the findings of the happiness research. It finds that these claims are not supported by the current findings.



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