The Happy Economist: Happiness for the Hard-Headed

By Ross Gittins | Go to book overview

6
HOW TO BE HAPPY

Being rich is better than being poor—if only for financial reasons.

— Woody Allen, who would make a good economist

The simple, perhaps surprising, truth is that most of us are quite happy. According to the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index—the main regular measure of happiness in Australia—the average score from many surveys over the years is about 75 out of 100. That’s not too bad. It suggests that the human animal is built to be happy. But even for those individuals with scores around the average there’s still room for improvement and, of course, many people fall below the average.

As we saw in Chapter 3, although about half our level of happiness is determined by the genes we inherit, that leaves plenty of scope for us to influence our own happiness by the things we do. And the psychologists who specialise in the study of what they call subjective wellbeing now know a lot about the things that do—and don’t—contribute to our happiness.

Prominent among these specialists is Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky, of the University of California, Riverside. In her

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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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