Origins of Happiness: Evidence and Policy Implications

In 1961, the OECD organised a conference on human capital that propelled education into the centre of policy-making worldwide (OECD 1962, Schultz 1961). This month, the OECD and the London School of Economics (LSE) are holding a conference on subjective wellbeing that they hope will usher in another revolution – where policymaking at last aims at what really matters: the happiness of the people.

As Thomas Jefferson once said, “The care of human life and happiness… is the only legitimate object of good government”. But to make policy requires numbers. Human capital took off once people realised its high rate of return. Wellbeing will only take off when policymakers have numbers that tell them how any change of policy will affect the measured wellbeing of the people, and at what cost.

– Naked Capitalism

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