From the great guru of the interdisciplinary field of happiness studies comes a fascinating statement: happiness, in fact, is a measurable human state. In his new handbook, he examines the keys to achieving happiness and why, on a societal level people have grown wealthier but no happier over the past 30 years. 320 pp. 40,000 print.
Readable look at the important implications of a new science
30 september 2006
This book makes a compelling and accessible case that the new science of happiness is very relevant to how we shape our society. Layard is an economist by education and argues that his own profession has been complacent in almost unthinkingly using consumption as a practical approximation of happiness. The policy recommendations that result have made us richer, but often not happier. Layard says that it is now possible to measure happiness and thus there is no excuse not to tailor policies to achieve the goal of making society happier. In a very readable fashion he connects recent research on what makes people happy (things like stable families, socially integrated neighbourhoods and low unemployment) to some possible policies. Although one may not agree with some of his recommendations the book is refreshing in its approach. As a result I feel that all my fellow economists should read this to get a new perspective on our profession. Politicians and voters should also read it for new insights on how we should shape our society.