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Social Policy Review 18Analysis and debate in social policy, 2006$
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Linda Bauld, Karen Clarke, and Tony Maltby

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9781861348449

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781861348449.001.0001

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date: 17 December 2017

Happiness and social policy: barking up the right tree in the wrong neck of the woods

Happiness and social policy: barking up the right tree in the wrong neck of the woods

Chapter:
(p.144) (p.145) Eight Happiness and social policy: barking up the right tree in the wrong neck of the woods
Source:
Social Policy Review 18
Author(s):

Tania Burchardt

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781861348449.003.0008

This chapter asks whether happiness is a useful way to conceptualise well-being, and whether its promotion is an appropriate goal for social policy. It draws on a review of literature from a number of disciplines. It introduces the ‘economics of happiness’ and describes indicators commonly used to measure subjective well-being (SWB) and their policy implications, suggesting that policy should re-examine some areas or topics that have traditionally been given little attention. It reflects on the evidence and concludes that promoting SWB or happiness as an explicit policy objective would be mistaken. It argues that happiness as a policy goal is probably inadequate if consideration is given to how opportunities or resources should be distributed in society, particularly if the concern is to examine the role of policy in addressing various forms of inequality.

Keywords:   happiness, social policy, economics of happiness, subjective well-being, inequality

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