Skip to content

Happiness Policy

December 7, 2012

Claude S. Fischer in Boston Review:

article00The pursuit of happiness is on! Not Jefferson’s version, the one he slipped into the Declaration of Independence in place of property. I mean the stampede to study happiness, create happiness measures for national policy, and publish pop-science and how-to books on the subject.

Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Commission uses citizens’ reports of their happiness to assess national progress, and former French President Nicholas Sarkozy appointed a Nobel-encrusted commission to study a similar idea; the United Nations places “happiness indicators” on its war-burdened agenda; American science institutions pour money into fine-tuning measurements of “subjective well-being”; and Amazon’s list of happiness books by moonlighting professors runs from The Happiness Hypothesis to Stumbling on HappinessAuthentic Happiness, Engineering Happiness, and beyond.

Since at least the 1950s, academics have analyzed surveys asking people how happy or satisfied they feel. We’ve used fuzzy questions such as, “Taken all together, how would you say things are these days—would you say that you are very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?” to assess respondents’ morale. We’ve compared, say, women to men and the poor to the rich. Dutch sociologist Ruut Veenhoven started compiling the findings into his World Database of Happiness back in the 1980s.

So what set off the current frenzy? Economists found happiness. [More]

Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s