Table of Contents

Happiness, Economics and Politics

Happiness, Economics and Politics

Towards a Multi-Disciplinary Approach

Edited by Amitava Krishna Dutt and Benjamin Radcliff

This timely and important book presents a unique study of happiness from both economic and political perspectives. It offers an overview of contemporary research on the emergent field of happiness studies and contains contributions by some of the leading figures in the field.

Introduction: Happiness, Economics and Politics

Amitava Krishna Dutt and Benjamin Radcliff

Subjects: economics and finance, economic psychology, history of economic thought


Amitava Krishna Dutt and Benjamin Radcliff The nature and meaning of happiness has been discussed over the centuries by religious figures, philosophers and, more recently, by social scientists. Moreover, it seems indisputable that happiness has always been the (or at least, a) goal of, or driving force for, most human beings. In recent years a new field of inquiry, the so-called ‘science of happiness’, has emerged. This field tries to examine the idea of happiness using quantifiable and measurable concepts and to analyse its determinants using the empirical and theoretical tools of the social and biological sciences. The ‘scientific’ study of happiness, however, has been conducted by scholars from different disciplines in different and largely separate ways. Psychologists have turned from an emphasis on problems such as depression to a consideration of positive affect, and attempted to measure a number of notions of happiness using survey and experimental data, as well as brain signals, and have focused on different kinds of mental processes, personality traits and environmental factors to understand the determinants of happiness. Economists have focused on the effects of income and consumption on happiness and well-being, debating, essentially, whether money buys happiness. They have also approached the study of economic development using the concepts of economic growth and improvements in well-being. Sociologists have emphasized interactions within communities, families and groups as well as the broader effects of culture on happiness. Political scientists have focused on how different systems of government – such as democracies – and different types of governmental...