1st Edition

Wellbeing, Nature, and Moral Values in Economics How Modern Economic Analysis Faces the Challenges Ahead

By Heinz Welsch Copyright 2023

    Drawing on more modern expressions of economic analysis, this book explores the interplay between wellbeing, nature and moral values in economics.

    In standard accounts of economics, these three themes are typically treated in isolation from each other, or else overlooked entirely. This book argues that due to this blinkered approach, standard economic analysis is poorly equipped to deal with global contemporary challenges including climate change, biodiversity loss, sustainability, and the risk of pandemic diseases. The book reviews the economic literature to show that the last few decades has seen the re-insertion into economic analysis of human wellbeing, natural resources and moral values: three themes present in early economic thought that are highly relevant to the challenges ahead. The book argues for the greater integration of these three themes as the natural environment is crucial to human wellbeing, and moral values are essential for environmentally benign behaviors. The book also focuses on how specific moral values, identified by contemporary moral psychology, actually shape economic behavior rather than how abstract ethical principles they should shape economic behavior.

    The book will be of significant interest to readers in the economics and social sciences, particularly behavioral economics and social psychology.

    List of tables

    1. Introduction: Economics and the Challenges Ahead
    2. Some Challenges Ahead

      The Challenges Ahead as Public Good Problems and the Role of Moral Values

      Nature, Wellbeing and, Moral Values in Economics: Past and Present

      Aims and Scope of the Book

      Overview of the Subsequent Chapters


      Part I. Welfare, Wellbeing, and the Environment

    3. Measuring Welfare
    4. Introduction

      New Measures of Welfare

      Subjective Wellbeing and Economics

      Subjective Wellbeing as a Welfare Measure



    5. Economic Determinants of Wellbeing
    6. Introduction

      Microeconomic Factors of Wellbeing

      Macroeconomic Factors of Wellbeing


      Implications for Public Policy



    7. Wellbeing and the Environment
    8. Introduction

      Air Pollution

      Climate Change

      Environmental Amenities and Land Use

      Pro-Environmental Behavior



      Part II. Economics, Morality, and the Challenges Ahead

    9. Ethics and Economics
    10. Introduction

      Consequentialism and Deontology

      Normative Accounts of Ethics in Economics

      Ethics and Natural Resource Utilization

      Ethics and Climate Change

      Ethical Behavior and Fairness Preferences: Some Evidence



    11. The Cooperation Dilemma and Deontological Behavior
    12. Introduction

      Social Dilemmas

      Global Public Goods

      International Climate Policy as a Cooperation Dilemma

      Voluntary Public Good Provision and Deontological Behavior




    13. Morality in Modern Economics
    14. Introduction

      Approaches to Morality

      Social Norms and Pro-Environmental Behavior

      Moral Norms and Pro-Environmental Behavior

      Identity, Cognitions, and Climate Change Mitigation




    15. Prospects and Future Directions

              Pressing Economic Problems: What Economists Say

              Economics and the Challenges Ahead

              Economics and the Role of Feelings




      Heinz Welsch is Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Oldenburg, Germany. He formerly held positions at the universities of Cologne and Bonn. His fields of research include environmental, resource, and energy economics; economics of subjective wellbeing; and the role of norms and values for economic behavior. He has published extensively on these topics. His publications on "environment and happiness" were among the first contributions to this field.