NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Do People Seek to Maximize Happiness? Evidence from New Surveys

Daniel J. Benjamin, Ori Heffetz, Miles S. Kimball, Alex Rees-Jones

NBER Working Paper No. 16489
Issued in October 2010

---- Acknowledgements -----

We are extremely grateful to Dr. Robert Rees-Jones and his office staff for generously allowing us to survey their patients and to Cornell's Survey Research Institute for allowing us to put questions in the 2009 Cornell National Social Survey. We thank Gregory Besharov, John Ham, Benjamin Ho, Erzo F. P. Luttmer, Michael McBride, Ted O'Donoghue, Matthew Rabin, Antonio Rangel, and Robert J. Willis for especially valuable early comments and suggestions. We are grateful to participants at the CSIP Workshop on Happiness and the Economy held at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, participants at the Cornell Behavioral/Experimental Lab Meetings, and seminar audiences at Cornell University, Deakin University, Syracuse University, NBER, the Stanford Institute for Theoretical Economics (SITE), and Florida State University for helpful comments. We thank Eric Bastine, J.R. Cho, Kristen Cooper, Isabel Fay, John Farragut, Geoffrey Fisher, Sean Garborg, Arjun Gokhale, Jesse Gould, Kailash Gupta, Han Jiang, Justin Kang, June Kim, Nathan McMahon, Elliot Mandell, Cameron McConkey, Greg Muenzen, Desmond Ong, Mihir Patel, John Schemitsch, Brian Scott, Abhishek Shah, James Sherman, Dennis Shiraev, Elizabeth Traux, Charles Whittaker, Brehnen Wong, Meng Xue, and Muxin Yu for their research assistance. We thank the National Institute on Aging (grant P01-AG026571/01) for financial support. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.

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