The Happy Economist: Happiness for the Hard-Headed

By Ross Gittins | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION: HAPPINESS AND
ECONOMICS

Happiness is no laughing mattter.
— Richard Whately

This is a book about happiness. It says a lot about the practical things we can do as individuals to live happier lives and about what governments could do to help us in that. But it also takes a different, harder-headed, more economics-oriented approach to the subject. Huh? What light could economics shed on the topic? Isn’t it meant to be the dismal science? Sure. But actually, the question should be the other way round: what light does our eternal pursuit of happiness shed on the adequacy and relevance of the doctrines of economics, doctrines that permeate the public discussion of what governments should do and what we want out of life?

Hard though it is to believe, economics started out with the goal of helping people maximise their happiness—though the economists preferred to call it ‘utility’. But economics lost its way in the 1930s. Concluding—prematurely, as it’s turned out—that our utility can’t be measured directly, it took the logical shortcut of assuming that studying the things we bought would reveal our preferences. Our true preferences. Economists became great

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The Happy Economist: Happiness for the Hard-Headed
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction- Happiness and Economics 1
  • Part One - Micro Happiness 7
  • 1 - What Is Happiness? 9
  • 2 - Evolution and Happiness 22
  • 3 - Who Is Happy? 39
  • 4 - Money and Happiness 69
  • 5 - Work and Happiness 98
  • 6 - How to Be Happy 132
  • Part Two - Macro Happiness 159
  • 7 - What’s Wrong with Economics 161
  • 8 - The Economy and the Environment 195
  • 9 - Towards the Happy Society 218
  • Bibliography 242
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