Death, Happiness, and the Calculation of Compensatory Damages

Andrew J. Oswald and Nattavudh Powdthavee

in Law and Happiness

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780226676005
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226676029 | DOI:
Death, Happiness, and the Calculation of Compensatory Damages

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This chapter presents a study of the mental distress caused by bereavement. The greatest emotional losses are from the death of a spouse, the second greatest from the death of a child, and the third from the death of a parent. It explores how happiness regression equations might be used in tort cases to calculate compensatory damages for emotional harm and pain and suffering. The chapter examines alternative well-being variables, discusses adaptation, considers the possibility that bereavement affects someone's marginal utility of income, and suggests a procedure for correcting for the endogeneity of income. Although the chapter's contribution is methodological and further research is needed, some illustrative compensation amounts are discussed.

Keywords: bereavement; death; happiness; compensatory damages; adaptation; income; happiness regression equations; emotional loss; emotional harm

Chapter.  11918 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Economics

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