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HappinessA Revolution in Economics$
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Bruno S. Frey

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780262062770

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262062770.001.0001

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Happiness and Political Institutions

Happiness and Political Institutions

(p.177) 14 Happiness and Political Institutions

Bruno S. Frey

The MIT Press

Economic policy can play a key role in establishing fundamental institutions that allow individuals to achieve the level of happiness to which they aspire. Two basic political institutions that strongly influence happiness are direct democracy and federalism. This chapter examines the link between well-being and the direct political participation rights of the citizens via popular initiatives and referenda. It discusses the effects of decentralization of political units—such as provinces, states, or political communes—on citizen’s well-being. It shows that these decentralized units have no impact on outcomes unless they have a significant amount of power to decide for themselves. For this reason, the sub-units must have taxation power. The chapter also describes a new form of federalism called Functional Overlapping Competing Jurisdictions designed to overcome the major drawbacks of existing forms of federalism.

Keywords:   political institutions, happiness, direct democracy, federalism, well-being, political participation rights, decentralization, political units, taxation, Functional Overlapping Competing Jurisdictions

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