... and the Pursuit of Happiness - Wellbeing and the Role of Government

127 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2012 Last revised: 29 Aug 2013

See all articles by Christian Bjørnskov

Christian Bjørnskov

Aarhus University - Department of Economics and Business; Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN); Center for Political Studies; Institute for Corruption Studies

Peter J. Boettke

George Mason University - Department of Economics

Philip Booth

City University London - Sir John Cass Business School

Christopher J. Coyne

George Mason University - Department of Economics

Marc De Vos

Macquarie Law School; Ghent University-Universiteit Gent - Department of Penal Law and Criminology

Paul Ormerod

Volterra Consulting

Daniel W. Sacks

Indiana University - Kelley School of Business - Department of Business Economics & Public Policy

Pedro Schwartz

Universidad CEU San Pablo

J. R. Shackleton

Westminster Business School

Chris Snowdon

Independent

Betsey Stevenson

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Justin Wolfers

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics; University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy; The University of Sydney - Discipline of Economics; Brookings Institution - Economic Studies Program; Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); Kiel Institute for the World Economy

Date Written: January 16, 2012

Abstract

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 improvement in general wellbeing rather than improvements in national income.

But is it really true that government policy has always been orientated towards maximizing GDP? Is it true that wellbeing does not increase as income increases? Is it true that more equal societies are happier societies? Can we really improve wellbeing through workplace legislation? Is it right to orientate government policy towards the single aim of increasing aggregate wellbeing 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 wellbeing at the heart of government policy.

Keywords: happiness economics, wellbeing, government spending, economic theory

JEL Classification: A11, A13

Suggested Citation

Bjørnskov, Christian and Boettke, Peter J. and Booth, Philip and Coyne, Christopher J. and De Vos, Marc and Ormerod, Paul and Sacks, Daniel W. and Schwartz, Pedro and Shackleton, J. R. and Snowdon, Chris and Stevenson, Betsey and Wolfers, Justin, ... and the Pursuit of Happiness - Wellbeing and the Role of Government (January 16, 2012). Institute of Economic Affairs Monographs, Readings 64; GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 12-25. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1991110

Christian Bjørnskov

Aarhus University - Department of Economics and Business ( email )

Fuglesangs Allé 4
Aarhus V, DK-8210
Denmark

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15
Sweden

Center for Political Studies

Landgreven 3
Copenhagen K, DK-1301
Denmark

Institute for Corruption Studies

Stevenson Hall 425
Normal, IL 61790-4200
United States

Peter J. Boettke

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States
703-993-1149 (Phone)
703-993-1133 (Fax)

Philip Booth (Contact Author)

City University London - Sir John Cass Business School ( email )

106 Bunhill Row
London, EC1Y 8TZ
United Kingdom

Christopher J. Coyne

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

Marc De Vos

Macquarie Law School ( email )

North Ryde
Sydney
Australia

Ghent University-Universiteit Gent - Department of Penal Law and Criminology ( email )

Gent, NSW 9000
Australia

Paul Ormerod

Volterra Consulting ( email )

5 The Old Power Station
121 Mortlake High Street
London SW14 8SN
United Kingdom

Daniel W. Sacks

Indiana University - Kelley School of Business - Department of Business Economics & Public Policy ( email )

Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

Pedro Schwartz

Universidad CEU San Pablo ( email )

Julian Romea, 23
Madrid, 28003
Spain
00 34 609 11 77 22 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.pedroschwartz.com,

J. R. Shackleton

Westminster Business School

35 Marylebone Road
London NW1 5LS
0207 911 5075 (Phone)

Chris Snowdon

Independent

No Address Available

Betsey Stevenson

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ( email )

500 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

Justin Wolfers

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics ( email )

611 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1220
United States
734-764-2447 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.nber.org/~jwolfers

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy ( email )

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United States
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HOME PAGE: http://www.nber.org/~jwolfers

The University of Sydney - Discipline of Economics ( email )

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Australia

Brookings Institution - Economic Studies Program ( email )

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Washington, DC 20036
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.nber.org/~jwolfers

Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics ( email )

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Washington, DC 20036
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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.nber.org/~jwolfers

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.iza.org/en/webcontent/personnel/photos/index_html?key=1737

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.cepr.org/researchers/details/rschcontact.asp?IDENT=157943

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Kiel Institute for the World Economy ( email )

P.O. Box 4309
Kiel, D-24100
Germany

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