Should Competition Policy Promote Happiness?

By Maurice E. Stucke
April 1, 2013

What, if anything, are the implications of the happiness economics literature on competition policy? This Article first examines whether competition policy should promote (or at least not impede) citizens’ opportunities to increase well-being. It next surveys the happiness literature on five key issues: (i) What constitutes well-being; (ii) How do you measure well-being; (iii) What increases well-being; (iv) Do people want to be happy; and (v) Can and should the government promote total well-being? Although the happiness literature does not provide an analytical framework for analyzing routine antitrust issues, this does not mean that competition officials should discount or ignore the literature altogether. The findings of the happiness literature, as this Article argues, offer some helpful insights on the current debate over antitrust’s goals. The literature suggests that competition policy in a post-industrial wealthy country would get more bang (in terms of increased well-being) in promoting economic, social, and democratic values, rather than simply promoting a narrowly defined consumer welfare objective.