Spring 2022

Consumption and the Pursuit of Happiness

Listed in: Economics, as ECON-275

Formerly listed as: ECON-35


Daniel P. Barbezat (Section 01)


Economics is often defined as “the study of the allocation of scarce resources.” But for what reason are we making this allocation? Most often, the goal is thought of as the attainment of well-­being, for individuals, groups or societies and even ecosystems as a whole. Economics is essentially the study of the attainment of well­‐being. Scarcity is the essential word – without it, a study of allocation would be irrelevant, and, of course, scarcity doesn’t just exist: it is created out of the interaction between limited resources/production and our wanting. This expresses the primary duality of economics: allocating resources to account for the interaction of what is or what is produced (supply) & our desire and wanting (demand). This course focuses on the demand-side – it is about our wanting, our decisions, our well-­being, and what economics has to say about these and their interactions. Social scientists have become more interested in happiness and well‐being and have begun to question more intensely its measurement, distribution and causes, building on the foundations of many economists and philosophers over a long history of analysis. In this course, we will examine this literature with careful reading and textual analysis, and our own experiences from contemplative exercises.

Requisite: ECON 111/111E or equivalent. Limited to 30 students. Spring semester. Professor Barbezat.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: An emphasis on reading and textual analysis, in the form of writing and speaking, along with quantitative work, and a willingness to attend to introspective exercises. Students with documented disabilities who will require accommodations in this course should be in consultation with Accessibility Services and reach out to the faculty member as soon as possible to ensure that accommodations can be made in a timely manner.


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2015, Spring 2022