Scitovsky Was Right…and There Is More: Comfort Goods, Stimulus Goods, Education and Subjective Wellbeing

Becchetti LeonardoLubicz Chiara
CEIS Research Paper
A main legacy of Scitovsky’ thought is the identification of the conflict between comfort and stimulus goods. Comfort goods are material goods that relieve pain or stress and produce temporary pleasure but can create dependence and addiction. They thereby weaken the development of skills needed to access stimulus goods that produce in turn a longer run positive and significant effect on subjective wellbeing, by satisfying the taste for variety, complexity and curiosity. The effect of stimulus goods tends to be permanent and less subject to satiation and hedonic adaptation, differently from comfort goods. We identify proxies of comfort and stimulus goods and test the Scitovsky hypothesis. Our findings do not reject the hypothesis of the opposite effect of comfort and stimulus goods on subjective wellbeing, and, consistently with Scitovsky’s view, identify the transmission channel in the capacity of stimulus goods of contributing to learn new things, relieving us from boredom and making us interested and absorbed most of time in everyday life.

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Number: 565
Keywords: comfort goods, stimulus goods, life satisfaction
Volume: 21
Issue: 5
Date: Monday, July 31, 2023
Revision Date: Monday, July 31, 2023