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A happy choice: wellbeing as the goal of government

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 January 2020

PAUL FRIJTERS
Affiliation:
London School of Economics, Department of Social Policy, London, UK
ANDREW E. CLARK
Affiliation:
Paris School of Economics, Paris, France and London School of Economics, Centre for Economic Performance, London, UK
CHRISTIAN KREKEL
Affiliation:
London School of Economics, Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science, London, UK and London School of Economics, Centre for Economic Performance, London, UK
RICHARD LAYARD
Affiliation:
London School of Economics, Centre for Economic Performance, London, UK
Corresponding
E-mail address:

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, emphasizing the importance of acknowledging the political agency of citizens and thus their own evaluations of their lives. 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 lie.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s) 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

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