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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.

Chapter 16: What is to be Done? Toward a ‘Happier’ World

Amitava Krishna Dutt and Benjamin Radcliff

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


Amitava Krishna Dutt and Benjamin Radcliff INTRODUCTION 16.1 In this brief concluding chapter we discuss what happiness studies (especially the contributions to this volume) says about what should be done, individually and collectively, to increase happiness and well-being. We will take it for granted that happiness and well-being are broadly defined, not to mean merely immediate gratification and the accumulation of stuff (which we have seen may not actually increase even subjective well-being), and to be multidimensional, that is, incorporating not only subjective well-being but also such things as flourishing and self-actualization (as argued, for instance, by Ong, this volume). We also take it for granted that the goal is not to maximize national happiness in some formal and narrow sense, but to simply increase happiness, broadly defined. A brief chapter clearly cannot be expected to provide a comprehensive discussion of all the things that can be done to increase happiness in its various forms. The aim of this chapter is much more modest. It is to provide some examples of what is to be done to illustrate two main points. First, action needs to be taken at several different levels: at the level of the individual, groups, nations and even the world, and that operating at only one level may not be enough. Second, that things need to be done in different spheres of life to address problems arising from sources emphasized by different disciplines, so that a multidisciplinary perspective is necessary not only for understanding happiness and its...

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