The Pursuit of Happiness

The Pursuit of Happiness: An Economy of Well-Being

Carol Graham
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 164
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7864/j.ctt4cg7sh
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  • Book Info
    The Pursuit of Happiness
    Book Description:

    InThe Pursuit of Happiness, renowned economist Carol Graham explores what we know about the determinants of happiness and clearly presents both the promise and the potential pitfalls of injecting the "economics of happiness" into public policymaking. While the book spotlights the innovative contributions of happiness research to the dismal science, it also raises a cautionary note about the issues that still need to be addressed before policymakers can make best use of them.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-2439-1
    Subjects: Business, Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. PREFACE TO THE PAPERBACK EDITION
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. CHAPTER ONE HAPPINESS: A NEW SCIENCE
    (pp. 1-26)

    FOR THE PAST TEN YEARS, I have been studying happiness around the world, in countries as different as Afghanistan, Chile, and the United States. It has been an amazing foray into the complexity of the human psyche on the one hand, and the simplicity of what seems to make us happy on the other. My last book on happiness, published in 2009, ended with a speculative chapter on policy, with the quote above at the top of the chapter.¹ It’s either a sign of my lack of imagination or of the speed with which the current public debates have taken...

  5. CHAPTER TWO WHAT WE MEAN BY HAPPINESS: A “THEORY” OF AGENCY AND WELL-BEING
    (pp. 27-61)

    AS THE DISCUSSION OF HAPPINESS moves from empirical studies that aim to deepen our understanding of the determinants of human well-being to happiness as a metric of economic progress or as a policy objective, it begs the question of what happiness means. That is obviously too large a question to be resolved by any one discussion, scholar, or academic debate. But before happiness becomes a subject of policy, there are many parts of that question that merit further discussion. Foremost among them is what definition of happiness is most relevant and appropriate to apply in making policy—and how that...

  6. CHAPTER THREE HAPPINESS AROUND THE WORLD: What We Know
    (pp. 62-80)

    I HAVE SPENT MUCH OF the last decade studying happiness around the world, and it has surely been the most interesting enterprise that I have undertaken since I began to do research on economic development as a graduate student many years ago. In chapter 2, I identified a host of unanswered questions raised by that research. Those questions, which hinge on the definition of happiness, have led me into uncharted philosophical waters. In this chapter, I return to firmer empirical ground (at least for me) and review the regularities that I and others have found in the determinants of well-being...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR ADAPTATION AND OTHER PUZZLES
    (pp. 81-105)

    IF THE DETERMINANTS OF WELL-BEING across peoples, countries, and cultures are as similar as the last chapter suggests, then why does Sen’s grumbling rich man report being less happy than the contented peasant? How can we explain this puzzle? What does it imply about the relevance of happiness research to policy?

    There are indeed very stable patterns in the determinants of individual happiness: income, age, health, stable partnerships, employment, and friendships all matter to individual happiness, in essentially the same way. The consistency in these basic determinants in turn allows us to analyze the well-being effects of other things that...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE GNH VERSUS GNP?
    (pp. 106-126)

    EVEN IF THE SKEPTICS ARE correct and all of the current attention to happiness is just a short-lived fad (which I doubt), the debate still will have made a significant contribution by forcing us to rethink our measures of welfare and our benchmarks of progress. GNP is a complex, composite measure that has served the United States and many other countries well for many years, and it will continue to do so. No serious scholars of the economics of happiness suggest that we should toss out GNP. What the science and the debate surrounding it suggest is that we can...

  9. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. 127-130)
  10. NOTES
    (pp. 131-152)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 153-164)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 165-165)