The Politics of Happiness

The Politics of Happiness

What Government Can Learn From the New Research on Well-being

Book - 2010
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Princeton University Press

During the past forty years, thousands of studies have been carried out on the subject of happiness. Some have explored the levels of happiness or dissatisfaction associated with typical daily activities, such as working, seeing friends, or doing household chores. Others have tried to determine the extent to which income, family, religion, and other factors are associated with the satisfaction people feel about their lives. The Gallup organization has begun conducting global surveys of happiness, and several countries are considering publishing periodic reports on the growth or decline of happiness among their people. One nation, tiny Bhutan, has actually made "Gross National Happiness" the central aim of its domestic policy. How might happiness research affect government policy in the United States--and beyond? In The Politics of Happiness, former Harvard president Derek Bok examines how governments could use the rapidly growing research data on what makes people happy--in a variety of policy areas to increase well-being and improve the quality of life for all their citizens.

Bok first describes the principal findings of happiness researchers. He considers how reliable the results appear to be and whether they deserve to be taken into account in devising government policies. Recognizing both the strengths and weaknesses of happiness research, Bok looks at the policy implications for economic growth, equality, retirement, unemployment, health care, mental health, family programs, education, and government quality, among other subjects. Timely and incisive, The Politics of Happiness sheds new light on what makes people happy and how government policy could foster greater satisfaction for all.

Publisher: Princeton : Princeton University Press, c2010
ISBN: 9780691144894
Branch Call Number: 306.0973 B6373p 2010
Characteristics: viii, 262 p. : ill. ; 24 cm


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Jun 07, 2012

Many conclusions are based on personal opinion/philosophy, but it has some interesting details. Increased income only moderately affects happiness. We spend lots of time at work, but its one of the places we are not the happiest. Health is a huge factor that governments can have some influence over, but personal responsibility is important too.

May 13, 2011

Bok does a nice job of summarizing recent research on happiness, and suggesting how government could put it to use in improving well-being. However, there is not much passion apparent here, and it's hard to see this book affecting public policy as he hopes it might.


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