Subjective Well-Being Inside the Obama Administration

An interesting observation about the potential policy impact of “happiness economics” in?this weekend’s Financial Times from the always-astute?Tim Harford:

Perhaps Barack Obama has been taking note: three leading happiness scholars, Betsey Stevenson, Kahneman’s co-author Alan Krueger and Cass Sunstein all have senior government positions. Maybe they can figure out how to improve the nation’s mood.

While the UK House of Lords has?Richard Layard, I can’t think of any country in the world in which three senior political appointments have been filled by happiness scholars.? I wonder how the research of these scholars informs and shapes their policy work.

Read?the full piece here.

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  1. Mr. Bad Example says:

    They could improve the country’s mood by recommending policies that, ultimately, will make everyone poor and reliant on the Federal government.

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  2. DaveyNC says:

    Evidently, he doesn’t listen to them, because we are not very happy right now.

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  3. bob says:

    Does anyone spouting the reliant on big government line ever look any deeper than that?

    We’ve had policies since Reagan to continually reduce the government intervention into private business. We’ve received huge faceless businesses that control our lives.

    Instead of relying on big government, you now rely on big business. Think about where you spend your money and tell me that you could shake the business owners hand. Your mortgage company, your power company, your phone/internet/cable company, your grocery store, your gas company, your insurance company, your car manufacturer, your car maintenance, etc.

    It used to be that Americans owned things. Now, we work for people who own things. This is bad for America, and it’s the fault of both parties.

    If you want America to dig out of this hole, you have to stop pretending that the guys on your side (either side) have all the answers and stop making excuses for them when they mess up.

    That said, I love happiness more than money, and I think that trading the latter for the former is the sort of transaction everyone should be trying to make.

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  4. Abir Mandal says:

    “Think about where you spend your money and tell me that you could shake the business owners hand. ”

    I don’t care about shaking hands. However, I do care about being able to choose where to spend my money.
    With big government you have no choice.

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  5. pablo says:

    Abir, perhaps what you meant was “With monopolies, you have no choice, while government always offers some recourse through elections.”

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  6. JimBob says:

    Given the huge increase of people on depression medication in the last two years, I would say they are not doing their job. I would say the best thing they could do is say they were leaving and taking congress with them. That would make a lot of people happy, myself included.

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  7. James says:

    It should be noted that Charles Dickens answered this question fairly conclusively:

    “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”

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  8. Lorenzo says:

    A government which relies on economists who claim to define my happiness is terrifying.

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