Pursuing happiness

By Dan Corry | 12 October 2021
  • Dan Corry

Over the summer, a rather technical and dry paper emerged from the bowels of the Treasury. Few will have noticed – it had no juicy gossip on the Sunak-Johnson wars and doesn’t solve the lorry driver shortage – but it could be of profound importance for public policy in the years ahead.

The paper is all about how wellbeing can and should be used to inform policy, make choices among options, and then implement and evaluate them. At a stroke it puts the pursuit of happiness at the heart of what the Treasury, at least, thinks should be the objective of policy. Although it does not put it like this, it is a signal that maximising GDP should no longer be the only indicator we care about when appraising policy options.

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