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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
May 2023
Print publication year:
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Creative Common License - CC Creative Common License - BY Creative Common License - NC Creative Common License - ND
This content is Open Access and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0

Book description

What produces a happy society and a happy life? Thanks to the new science of wellbeing, we can now answer this question using state-of-the-art empirical evidence. This transforms our ability to base our decisions on the outcomes that matter most, namely the wellbeing of us all including future generations. Written by two of the world's leading experts on the economics of wellbeing, this book shows how wellbeing can be measured, what causes it and how it can be improved. Its findings are profoundly relevant to all social sciences, including psychology, economics, politics, behavioural science and sociology. A field-defining text on a new science that aims to span the whole of human life, this will be an invaluable resource for undergraduate and graduate students, policy-makers and employers, who can apply its insights in their professional and private lives. This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.


‘Wellbeing: Science and Policy is a wonderful book by two giants in the field. It is a serious treatment of the potential - and limitations - of wellbeing metrics as analytical and scientific tools, as well as their many possible applications to policy frames and designs. It serves as an introduction to the field and is written in approachable language and with clarity of definition of technical areas. It is a book that will make a lasting contribution to the advancement and understanding of the new science of wellbeing.’

Carol Graham - Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution, and College Park Professor, The University of Maryland

‘There can be no doubt that this will become THE field-defining textbook of the next decade. Anyone who wants to get into wellbeing research and policy simply must read it. Even if you don’t think wellbeing is your thing, you’ll have your mind changed or, at the very least, be smarter and happier from reading it.’

Paul Dolan - Professor of Behavioural Science, LSE, and author of Happiness by Design and Happy Ever After

‘Economists are the first to concede that Gross Domestic Product is, well, gross - a crude contributor to what really matters: human wellbeing. Richard Layard has been at the forefront of reorienting economics towards what really matters. In this book with Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, he presents the current state of this important rethinking.’

Steven Pinker - Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of Enlightenment Now

‘A clear, thorough and thoughtful survey of the key issues and major findings in the science of wellbeing that could - and should - inform public policy. Essential reading for anyone who wants to know what ‘making the world a better place’ really means.’

Daniel Gilbert - Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of the New York Times best-seller Stumbling on Happiness; host of the PBS television series This Emotional Life

‘Wellbeing and Policy is the best book I have read in a long time - a fountain of knowledge and an inspiring call to action.’

Daniel Kahneman - Nobel Prize-winner for his pioneering work in behavioural economics and author of the best-selling Thinking Fast and Slow

‘Fills a fundamental need.’

Robert Schiller - Nobel laureate

‘… a great example of a book that appeals to both experts in the field and newcomers. For the former, it broadens researchers’ perspectives while delving into rich technical detail.’

Egor Bronnikov Source: LSE Review of Books

‘This well-written book will serve as a great textbook for advanced high school or college courses in philosophy, political science, and/or economics. The text will also be easily understood and appreciated by the general public. … Highly recommended.’

R. F. White Source: Choice

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Full book PDF

Page 1 of 2

  • Wellbeing
    pp i-ii
  • Wellbeing - Title page
    pp iii-iii
  • Science and Policy
  • Copyright page
    pp iv-iv
  • Dedication
    pp v-vi
  • Contents
    pp vii-ix
  • Introduction and Summary
    pp 1-14
  • Part I - The Case for Wellbeing
    pp 15-52
  • 1 - What Subjective Wellbeing Is and Why It Matters
    pp 16-37
  • 2 - Wellbeing as the Goal for Society
    pp 38-52
  • Part II - Human Nature and Wellbeing
    pp 53-94
  • 3 - How Our Behaviour Affects Our Wellbeing
    pp 54-67
  • 4 - How Our Thoughts Affect Our Wellbeing
    pp 68-77
  • 5 - Our Bodies, Our Genes and Our Wellbeing
    pp 78-94
  • Part III - How Our Experience Affects Our Wellbeing
    pp 95-250
  • 6 - The Inequality of Wellbeing
    pp 96-111
  • Some Basic Facts
  • 7 - Tools to Explain Wellbeing
    pp 112-125
  • 8 - Explaining Wellbeing
    pp 126-137
  • A First Exploration
  • 9 - Family, Schooling and Social Media
    pp 138-151
  • 10 - Health and Healthcare
    pp 152-165
  • 11 - Unemployment
    pp 166-177
  • 12 - The Quality of Work
    pp 178-201
  • 13 - Income
    pp 202-219
  • 14 - Community
    pp 220-233
  • 15 - The Physical Environment and the Planet
    pp 234-250
  • Part IV - Government and Wellbeing
    pp 251-293
  • 16 - How Government Affects Wellbeing
    pp 252-265
  • 17 - How Wellbeing Affects Voting
    pp 266-281
  • 18 - Cost-Effectiveness and Policy Choice
    pp 282-293
  • Our Thanks
    pp 294-294
  • List of Annexes
    pp 295-295

Page 1 of 2


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