Can The Government Make Us Happy?

 A New York Times Op-Ed piece today raises a provocative question: Should the government attempt to discover and measure how happy we are, and try to come up with policies that might raise the general level of happiness?

Before you reply that  government policies are the main cause of your unhappiness, check it out here. This  graph hints at the complexities of the question, and will further depress millions of parents:

Happiness is clearly real, related to objective measures of well-being. Happier people have lower blood pressure and get fewer colds. But using it to guide policy could be tricky. Not least because we don’t quite understand why it behaves the way it does. Men are unhappiest at almost 50, and women at just after 45. Paraplegics are not unhappier than healthy people. People who live with teenagers are the unhappiest of all.

(Ouch. But I swear, she was a sweet little girl just a year ago! And it only lasts seven years.)

 Oddly, the Times writers seem not to know  the brilliant work done by Harvard professor Daniel Gilbert in Stumbling On Happiness. I recommend the book for at least a deep skim; if you’d like to hear a radio piece with my reflections on the book, click here and choose MP3.

Advertisements

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