Markets, Productivity, and Happiness in a Historical Perspective

The Spanish Enlightenment and Happiness Economics. The case of Seville’s Economic Society of Friends of the Country and its project to trade meat salting with Buenos Aires Province (1778).

Noguero Hernández Carlos, University of Seville
Martínez Fernández Ignacio, University of Seville
Palma Martos Luis Antonio, University of Seville

The Enlightened Movement in Spain is widely known for its modernizing effort and its economic and social reform projects in Spain in the 18th and 19th centuries. In line with the European Enlightenment, the ideals of classical liberalism and utilitarianism began to spread hand in hand with the enlightened intellectuals as a paradigm towards the well-being of the people. The anthropocentric turn of the Enlightenment brought with it not only the struggle for the rights of man and the consequent evolution of European absolute monarchies towards enlightened despotism, but also the evolution of the very perception of wealth, well-being and happiness of the society. Thanks to the works of Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus or Jeremy Bentham, the roots of the Happiness Economics can be traced back to the 18th century through the association they made between the economic development of society and the level of happiness. This paper analyzes the project of the Royal Sevillian Economic Society of Friends of the Country for the salted meat trade with the province of Buenos Aires as a case study of the connection between economic development, well-being and happiness in the Spanish Enlightenment through the study of the transcripts of sessions collected in the Libro de Actas No. 1 (1775-1780) and the copies of letters collected in the Book of Correspondence of the Society, as well such as the loose papers available in the Municipal Archive of Seville.

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Keywords: Economic History, Enlightenment, Royal Sevillian Economic Society of Friends of the Country, Happiness Economics

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