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People want to be happy. But do we know what makes us happy, or how society is best organised to promote happiness?
See news and press coverage related to this programme.
View the Well-being of Children Seminars schedule.
Below are details of the original lectures behind the book.
In March 2003 Lord Richard Layard, delivered three lectures at LSE on the theme of the pursuit of Happiness:
He focused on the definition of happiness, the causes, and what is needed to create a happier society, reviewing evidence from economics, psychology, sociology and neuroscience to draw conclusions about what priorities would serve us better than those which are currently pursued. Specifically he looked at the following three themes:
What is happiness and are we getting happier?
Brain-imaging proves that when people report their feelings, they generally report an objective reality. And people's reports show that they have got no happier since World War Two, despite massive economic growth.
Read What is Happiness and are we Getting Happier?
What causes happiness?
Happiness depends on what you have relative to a norm. And the norm is profoundly affected by what others have and by what you have got used to. So we should not sacrifice too much in order to increase income. For example, sacrificing too much leisure is a danger that can be avoided by sufficiently high taxes.
Read What Causes Happiness? Rethinking Public Economics
How can we make a happier society?
People value secure jobs, secure private lives and a secure environment. In the new social democracy, policy should focus more heavily on these objectives. But the project will fail without a restated commitment that we should pursue the greatest happiness of mankind.
Read What would make a happier society?