There’s a fascinating debate on happiness going on over at The Economist. Officially, the motion is that: “This house believes that new measures of economic and social progress are needed for the 21st-century economy.” My own contribution tries to discipline the grandiose rhetoric of both sides, concluding that:
[T]he benefits of new happiness data have surely been overstated. But we economists compare benefits with costs. Adding a couple of questions to existing surveys is so cheap that it almost certainly passes any cost-benefit analysis. And when the motion passes, we nerdy social scientists need to stop writing grandiose treatises and get back to the mundane grind of social science, mining these data for yet more incremental insight.
My full argument is available over the fold.