For Critical Analysis – Pg. 542
1. Why would evidence of inconsistency of measured happiness levels for a single individual cast considerable doubt on the appropriateness of comparing happiness levels across individuals?
Economists are not convinced measured happiness levels actually tell anything about how to rate a single individual’s satisfaction. Happiness levels vary due to differing factors including income, relationship status, age, residence and employment status. No two individuals are composed of the same factors and thus, comparing happiness levels across a population would not produce appropriate results. Patterns of happiness may be consistent across individuals with similar backgrounds; however, everyone defines happiness differently and places value on varying factors such as life experiences, friendship and social status. In addition, another factor influencing happiness levels is whether or not an individual has the tools to pursue and fulfill an objective or achievement. In order for happiness levels to accurately be compared between individuals, there would need to be common ground. Common background and opportunities would have to be consistent between all people.
2. Why is the utility theory applied to consumer choice theory silent about comparing people’s utility levels?
The utility theory is silent because utility levels cannot be compared. The utility level of any person can be multiplied by any number without personal preferences changing; therefore, the utilities of different people cannot be compared. One person does not have a higher or lower level than someone else. Utility levels are only capable of measuring preferences of a particular person.