Should governments be responsible for happiness?

Should governments be responsible for happiness?

Don”t ask the state for happiness

By Helen Johns and Paul Ormerod

Published: July 16 2007 19:49 | Last updated: July 16 2007 19:49

Tê¢__‘_he idea that government policy should be focused more explicitly on promoting happiness has been gaining support. Proponents of this view argue that happiness indicators, based on surveys that purport to measure how happy people feel, have stagnated over decades. An important reason is that governments have aimed to maximise a narrowly defined materially based measure of economic welfare, gross national product, rather than a more holistic indicator of welfare based on happiness.

This premise is clearly false. Politicians have always sought to achieve many things that are not designed to increase GNP. The most recent public service agreements on the British Treasury website, for example, spell out government commitments to make schoolchildren do more physical education, increase participation in the arts and reduce scrapie in sheep. Presumably these are not just oblique ways of boosting the economy.

To read the full happiness article – click here.