A Happy Choice: Wellbeing as the Goal of Government

34 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2019

See all articles by Paul Frijters

Paul Frijters

Queensland University of Technology - School of Economics and Finance

Andrew Clark

Paris School of Economics (PSE); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Christian Krekel

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - London School of Economics

Richard Layard

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - London School of Economics

Abstract

In this article, we lay out the basic case for wellbeing as the goal of government. We briefly review the history of this idea, which goes back to the ancient Greeks and was the acknowledged ideal of the Enlightenment. We then discuss possible measures on which a wellbeing orientation could be based, emphasising the importance of acknowledging the political agency of citizens and thus their own evaluations of their life. We then turn to practicalities and consequences: how would one actually set up wellbeing-oriented decision-making and what difference should we expect from current practice? We end by discussing the current barriers to the adoption of wellbeing as the goal of government, both in terms of what we need to know more about and where the ideological barriers lay.

Keywords: subjective wellbeing, life satisfaction, public policy, political economy, social welfare

JEL Classification: I3, A10, H10, H83

Suggested Citation

Frijters, Paul and Clark, Andrew Eric and Krekel, Christian and Layard, Richard, A Happy Choice: Wellbeing as the Goal of Government. IZA Discussion Paper No. 12720, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3483958 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3483958

Paul Frijters (Contact Author)

Queensland University of Technology - School of Economics and Finance ( email )

GPO Box 2434
2 George Street
Brisbane, Queensland 4001
Australia
(07) 3864 9364 (Phone)
(07) 3864 1500 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.bus.qut.edu.au/paulfrijters/index.jsp

Andrew Eric Clark

Paris School of Economics (PSE) ( email )

48 Boulevard Jourdan
Paris, 75014 75014
France

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Christian Krekel

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - London School of Economics

Richard Layard

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - London School of Economics

United Kingdom

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