In spite of general reductions in government spending, the prime minister has found room in the government's budget to spend money on a major survey of what makes the British people happy. This will be used, in the prime minister's own words, to guide government policy towards improvements in general well-being rather than improvements in national income. But is it really true that government policy has always been orientated towards maximising GDP? Is it true that well-being does not increase as income increases? Is it true that more equal societies are happier societies? Can we really improve well-being through workplace legislation? Is it right to orientate government policy towards the single aim of increasing aggregate well-being across society as. a whole? These questions and many more are tackled by some of the leading intellectuals in the field. Overall, this monograph provides a substantial challenge to those who want to put the explicit pursuit of well-being at the heart of government policy.
Helen Johns is an economist specializing in the analysis of environmental policy. She has worked on a broad range of research projects for the UK government, the European Commission and the private sector. Paul Ormerod is an economist and director of Volterra Consulting. He is the author of Butterfly Economics, The Death of Economics, and Why Most Things Fail. He has been published in a wide range of journals, including Diplomacy and Statecraft, the Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, and Physica A.