Futuribles Journal n° 319

Institutions - Société, modes de vie

Happiness and Economic Development. Review of Richard Layard's Happiness: Lessons from a New Science


The current trend towards making the European economy more "flexible" (in line with the American model) could well turn out to be counter-productive, according to Richard Layard, a researcher at the London School of Economics, in his book Happiness (New York: Penguin Press, 2005), which is reviewed here by Hedva Sarfati. He maintains that this trend threatens to undermine people's feelings of confidence in their social and economic system; and yet the degree of mutual trust is a key factor in ensuring the well-being of a society and, in turn, its economic progress.
Arguing that effective well-being (both individual and collective) should be taken into account in economics, Richard Layard sets out the basic principles required in order to create happiness in society and formulates some recommendations for ways of implementing them. Hedva Sarfati summarizes them, pointing out that the author should be heeded, in view of the active role that he played in advising the British government between 1997 and 2001.

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