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Chapter 4: Knowledge-based Economies and Subjective Wellbeing
Hans-Jürgen Engelbrecht INTRODUCTION Over the last few decades there has been an explosion of research on subjective wellbeing (SWB) and its correlates, with implications for economic and other policy areas (Frey and Stutzer, 2002). However, recent surveys indicate that much remains to be done. There is still a lot of contradictory evidence and issues of causality and unobserved variables loom large (Diener and Seligman, 2004; Dolan et al., 2008a). Also, it is not immediately obvious how the focus on SWB is related to the knowledgebased economy (KBE) literature. Layard (2005), for example, reports the consensus view that 80 per cent of the variation in happiness between countries can be attributed to six factors: the divorce rate; the unemployment rate; the level of trust; membership in non-religious organizations; the quality of government; and the fraction of the population believing in God. The KBE is not explicitly mentioned by Layard. However, he regards science and technology (S&T) as the prime source of the changes that have been responsible for stagnant average SWB levels in developed economies. The main argument put forward in this chapter is that any policy discourse for KBEs, or ‘knowledge policies’, should take into account insights from SWB research. I shall try to convince the reader of this by covering references from diverse literatures, focusing on some key features of KBEs and their relationship with SWB, such as the nature of work and innovation. The need for exploring the KBE-SWB nexus is heightened by the increasing number...
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