Prof Philip Booth writes for ConservativeHome
Today the Institute of Economic Affairs published a new study “…and the Pursuit of Happiness: Wellbeing and the Role of Government”, that examines almost every aspect of well-being (or happiness economics). The authors are very sceptical of the Government’s approach and underlying assumptions. It is demonstrably not true, for example, that governments focus on GDP alone, as the Prime Minister suggests. If that were the case, we would have much more liberal planning laws, we would rid the country of employment regulation and government would spend less than 30 per cent of national income. Indeed, if government spending had been held for the last fifty years at the same proportion that we had in 1960, national income per head would probably be twice as big as it is today. So much for governments being obsessed with maximising GDP.
It is argued that well-being in society will be promoted if we have greater equality and spend less time trying to earn more money. If we get off our hedonistic treadmill, we will find some level of deeper satisfaction and be happier with our lives. However, as one of our authors notes: “There is no credible evidence that people in more egalitarian countries enjoy happier lives, nor is there any empirical reason why they should. Scholars of happiness have identified many factors which improve life satisfaction scores but income equality is not one of them.”
Read the rest of the article on ConservativeHome.