Saturday, July 07, 2007

Happiness: Lessons from a New Science by Richard Layard


Layard has for a long time been one of our leading economists - so long that we used one of his books as a text book all those years ago I studied A Level economics. This book is his effort "at a new evidence-based vision of how we can live better" (p. ix) The new science alluded to in the title is the science of happiness which Layard believes may now have found sufficient evidence to create a bit more happiness.

Layard states the central finding straight away - people in the West have got richer but not happier (p. 3) It follows that the emphasis given to raising GDP by politicians and economists is misplaced. If you asked people "What do you want? Happiness or Money?" most would reply "Happiness". They governments and individuals waste their energies on making more money instead of - instead of what? That is what Layard hopes the new science of happiness will tell us.

Chapter headings:

Part 1: The problem

1. What's the problem?

2. What is happiness?

3. Are we getting happier?

4. If you're so rich, why aren't you happy?

5. So what does make us happy?

6. What's going wrong?

7. Can we pursue a common good?

Part 2: What can be done?

8. The Greatest Happiness: Is that the goal?

9. Does economics have a clue?

10. How can we tame the rat race?

11. Can we afford to be secure?

12. Can mind control mood?

13. Do drugs help?

14. Conclusions for today's world


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