This book can be read by following different lines of interest, each of them with surprising novelties. Readers who are interested in the history of economics and in the eminent economists will find in this book a new interpretation of Tibor Scitovsky’s The Joyless Economy and related works. His contribution will be seen as an approach to ‘human welfare’ which is rooted in early economists, which anticipates recent research in the ‘Economics of Happiness’, and which goes towards still unexplored territories. Readers and students interested in the economic theory of well-being will find that Scitovsky’s approach to ‘human welfare’ takes the form of a new economic model. This is able to capture psychological concepts like intrinsic motivations and creativity in order to give an account of two different types of well-being, and also of ill-being. Readers who want to understand better how to draw happiness from income will find that Scitovsky’s approach provides original and comprehensive arguments. In particular, the arguments usually put forward in the ‘Economics of Happiness’ in order to explain the ‘Easterlin paradox’, that is, why people’s happiness does not increase despite economic growth in several countries, will emerge as special cases. The readers can follow their interests in historical, theoretical, or applied aspects through the chapters and sections of this book in a rather distinct manner. Nevertheless, each of the eight chapters also includes discussion of specific issues raised by Scitovsky’s approach that are interesting in themselves, such as the contraposition between hedonism and eudaimonia, addiction, the interpretation of Keynes’s essay on the future of ‘our grandchildren’, the paternalism of the policies for well-being, and the quality of economic growth. In order to guide readers, the contents of the chapters can be summarised as follows. Chapter 1 raises the core question of the book: is the economy able to ensure happy lives for people? This appears to be a modern question because recent research in the Economics of Happiness has raised a similar issue. However, this chapter will show that the question was already in the minds of eminent economists of the past, like John S. Mill and other economists of the Cambridge tradition. This is interesting because identified in these economists will be a common ‘research programme on human progress’ that enabled Scitovsky to find a novel answer to the question. Indeed, human progress was conceived by Mill and others

as the product not only of economic growth and people’s happiness but also of the development of human capacities. Unfortunately, this research programme remained undeveloped, and even disregarded by many other economists. Chapter 2 presents Scitovsky in a new light. In the literature, in fact, he has been considered an outlier, especially because of the heavy use of psychology in his The Joyless Economy, so that his main insights have not been integrated into standard economic research. Moreover, some aspects of his analysis, like the use of certain results in psychology, and the contrast in consumption behaviours between the USA and Europe, have been found to be unconvincing. This chapter will show, instead, that his main insights can be introduced into the familiar choice setting, thus obtaining new results, and that his most unconvincing aspects can be removed if his research on human welfare is focused on and distinguished from his consumer theory. Chapters 3, 4, and 5 describe the building blocks of Scitovsky’s approach to human welfare. Each chapter first puts forward concepts and links on the basis of a reinterpretation of Scitovsky’s works (Sections 3.2, 4.2, and 5.2). Then, the essence of the analysis is formalised with an economic model (Sections 3.3, 4.3, and 5.3). Finally, recent literature that appears useful to support, refine, and possibly circumscribe Scitovsky’s approach is briefly reviewed (Sections 3.4, 4.4, and 5.4). Chapter 3 introduces the key novelty of the book by acknowledging that people do not only search for shelter from adversity and comfort for themselves; they are also attracted by the exploration of the unknown, by the challenge of their capacities, and by the exchange of ideas with others. These more active and uncertain activities will be called ‘creative’ because by undertaking them people can achieve new things or simply gain new understanding of themselves, both during leisure time and at work. The new source of satisfaction thus derives from enjoying learning, from developing aptitudes and talents so as to understand life priorities and become ‘life skilled’. The chapter will show that this ‘creative’ pathway to well-being is an endogenous process, and that social externalities and economic constraints shape these dynamics. Chapter 4 contrasts the ‘creative’ pathway to well-being with the more traditional ‘defensive’ pathway in which people pursue ‘comfort’ for their bodies and in order to belong. Pursuing comfort is a familiar practice, a well-defined goal. Economics reminds us that it is costly; even education may be borne only as a cost to increase future comfort. Whereas the ‘creative’ pathway requires more engagement and adequate skills, that is, intrinsic motivation and ‘life skill’, the ‘comfort’ pathway to well-being fosters productive skills to buy the necessary goods, and to compete with others. This chapter will show that the two pathways are not only distinct but may go in different directions, that is, people may pursue one pathway and abandon the other. The contrast between the two pathways to well-being will be further clarified by the recent empirical findings that have revived the contrast between eudaimonia and hedonism originally drawn in ancient Greek philosophy. Chapter 5 completes the individual’s set of choices by acknowledging that people may be attracted by harmful, addictive goods, thus extending Scitovsky’s

approach to the idle poor. A novel approach is proposed because it differs both from the rational choice approach (in which people choose addictive goods even if they are perfectly informed about the harmful consequences), and from the behavioural approach (in which people lapse into harmful addiction because they are myopic). The chapter will show that people may fall into the trap of harmful addiction when they live poorly skilled lives and are unable to appreciate creative activity, so that risky activities appear to be immediate remedies for both rich and poor people. The way is thus open to any kind of substance and behavioural addiction. Chapter 6 provides a novel interpretation of the economy/happiness problem. This problem is evident in the USA and some other countries, where happiness tends to lag behind economic growth, to remain constant (‘Easterlin paradox’), or even to decline over time. It will be argued that the same market forces that have enabled the economy to grow by offering increasing opportunities for consumption and work may undermine the development of people’s life skill by making them more insecure with themselves and with others. Conforming to others’ pursuit of comfort thus becomes attractive, rather than pursuing one’s own goals, and boredom may ensue. As the Economics of Happiness suggests, comparing consumption with others, habituation to comfort, and unrealistic material aspirations may erode happiness. It thus emerges that Scitovsky’s approach not only anticipates the Happiness of Economics but provides a more comprehensive and deeper analysis. Chapter 7 applies Scitovsky’s approach to a problem that John M. Keynes raised with his well-known essay on the future of ‘our grandchildren’: how to use the time that will be freed by the reduction of working time required by subsistence thanks to economic progress. Interest in Keynes’s essay has been recently revived by taking two opposite positions. According to some economists, working time will not diminish because work realizes people’s self-interested aspirations, so that they can escape from the laziness of leisure. According to other economists, working time should be reduced because work finances insatiable material wants, while leisure is necessary for higher needs. This chapter takes a third route by shifting the focus from the work-leisure contraposition to the welfare problem, that is, to the problem of people’s lack of skill to appreciate the priorities of their lives, and thus properly to use and enjoy their time. Chapter 8 attempts to develop the ‘research programme on human progress’ further by asking these questions: What are the policies for people’s well-being? If these policies were effective, how could economic growth be affected? The first question poses the risk of paternalism, and the second question addresses the issue of the quality of growth, which has been recently debated at a planetary level. This chapter will show that Scitovsky’s approach to well-being is able to provide original answers to both questions and related issues by taking the development of people’s ‘agency freedom’ as the lodestar. The Conclusions collect the main and most original threads of the arguments of the book, thus showing that Scitovsky’s approach is able to provide new ideas for research on human welfare and progress.