The Politics of Happiness

by Richard Reeves, New Economics Foundation, 2003
Language : English

This new economics foundation’s discussion paper by Richard Reeves starts from this disturbing fact: “for the affluent majority in affluent nations, increased income, greater economic growth, brings little or no greater happiness in its wake.” Looking for explanations of such “insanity” the author finds three reasons. Firstly, it seems hard to give up economic growth which has worked so well. Then, there is no available and credible substitute strategy for free market economics and society. Lastly, the critical analyses of present collective and individual choices induces prescriptions opposite to individual liberty. Analyzing in particular the relationship between increasing consumption or monetary wealth and happiness, Reeves proposes a cultural shift alongside with policies to curb excess consumption. Calling for a shift towards a political economy of well-being, he suggests that making the right choices should be made easier rather than mandatory and sees some signs of hope. However, he recognizes that the struggle against “the orthodoxy of the market will be as difficult as the struggle to defeat the orthodoxy of religiously-ordained truth during the Enlightenment.”

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Reeves, Richard. 2003. The Politics of Happiness. London: New Economics Foundation.