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Hedonic adaptation to treatment: evidence from a medical intervention

Barazzetta, Marta; Appleton, Simon; Owens, Trudy


Marta Barazzetta

Professor of Development Economics


We investigate whether changes in life circumstances lead to long-lasting changes in subjective well-being using a medical intervention that provided orthotic equipment to Ugandan adults with lower limb disabilities. The intervention had a positive effect on mobility and physical health, and treated patients reported a significant improvement in life satisfaction in the first few months after the treatment. However, the effect on subjective well-being was not prolonged. After one year, life satisfaction returned to the pre-treatment levels. The evidence of adaptation is also supported by evidence of changes in patients’ reference levels, in the form of aspirations measured as both the level of income considered sufficient to live well, and the minimum income to make ends meet.


Barazzetta, M., Appleton, S., & Owens, T. (2020). Hedonic adaptation to treatment: evidence from a medical intervention. Journal of Development Studies, 56(3), 613-629 .

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 8, 2019
Online Publication Date Jun 6, 2019
Publication Date 2020
Deposit Date May 15, 2019
Publicly Available Date Dec 7, 2020
Print ISSN 0022-0388
Electronic ISSN 1743-9140
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 56
Issue 3
Pages 613-629
Keywords Subjective well-being; Adaptation; Health; RCT; Polio
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Peer Review Statement: The publishing and review policy for this title is described in its Aims & Scope.; Aim & Scope:; Received: 2017-03-18; Accepted: 2019-05-08; Published: 2019-06-06


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