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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I don't care too much for money...
... Money can't buy me love, or it would seem happiness, if the statistics on depression and anxiety in the modern western world compared with the 1950s are to be believed. This book is about the paradox of market economics - we pursue ever greater productivity, flexibility and trade, and our material wealth piles up - yet we do not seem to get happier. Indeed, the...
Published on 14 Nov 2005 by John Ault

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting - but not a self help book
When I bought this one I was half expecting a self-help book, or at the very least some significant elements of this. Unfortunately the self help element of the book is left to a chapter or two at the end, the answers being mainly buddhism and mediation. Most of the book builds a picture of what makes people happy, but very much from an economists point of view, with...
Published on 25 Jun 2010 by g.buxton


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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I don't care too much for money..., 14 Nov 2005
By 
John Ault (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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... Money can't buy me love, or it would seem happiness, if the statistics on depression and anxiety in the modern western world compared with the 1950s are to be believed. This book is about the paradox of market economics - we pursue ever greater productivity, flexibility and trade, and our material wealth piles up - yet we do not seem to get happier. Indeed, the things that make us happy - friends, family, love, community - are not things that we trade, and modern economies tend to atomise us into consumers, living far from our families and barely knowing our neighbours.
Professor Layard's strength in adressing this subject is that he comes from a hard-edged economics backgroud. There is no woolyness here, no hostility towards success. Instead, there is a rational effort to focus on happiness as the correct priority for public policy - including economic policy. Facinating, but unfortunatly the prognosis is a great deal clearer than the cure.
Truely thought provoking, even it some of those thoughts are "well we really have messed it all up."
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything you ever wanted to know about Happiness, 7 May 2006
I think this was the book that started the current trendiness of Happiness. Despite being fairly short it covers everything you could possibly want to know, and has a bibliography and internet links for anyone wanting to know more about any particular topic.

It is an important book because in some ways the modern world is making people more and more unhappy. But it doesn't have to be that way. The author offers suggestions, backed by solid evidence, for political and economic reforms and also for personally achieving greater happiness.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very readable introduction to an important new science, 30 Sep 2006
By 
Menno Middeldorp (Utrecht, The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Happiness: Lessons from a New Science (Paperback)
This book makes a compelling and accessible case that the new science of happiness is very relevant to how we shape our society. Layard is an economist by education and argues that his own profession has been complacent in almost unthinkingly using consumption as a practical approximation of happiness. The policy recommendations that result have made us richer, but often not happier. Layard says that it is now possible to measure happiness and thus there is no excuse not to tailor policies to achieve the goal of making society happier. In a very readable fashion he connects recent research on what makes people happy (things like stable families, socially integrated neighbourhoods and low unemployment) to some possible policies. Although one may not agree with some of his recommendations the book is refreshing in its approach. As a result I feel that all my fellow economists should read this to get a new perspective on our profession. Politicians and voters should also read it for new insights on how we should shape our society.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revolutionary, 14 Dec 2005
As a student of economics at A level, I found this book truly revolutionary. We all know that money does not equal happiness, but perhaps the advocates of materialism needed reminding once more.
The book proposes that the main objective of a society should be gross national happiness. In this way it shifts the economic goalposts from wealth to welfare. As happiness can now, supposedly, be accurately measured it seems a more realisic goal. It is the measurement of happiness which is instrumental in a shift of perspective, as previously it had been thought that happiness could not be measured. Therefore it would be impossible to judge the success of a policy aimed towards increasing happiness.
The fact that each person has different things that make them happy could serve to undermine a governmental pursuit of happiness on behalf of the masses. The book does not provide much in the way of policy that could increase happiness, even though it claims to do so. The policies it advocates include: tax as internalising the negative externality derived from earning more income than your peers, more PSHE lessons in schools, searching for a common goal, fostering a sense of community. Apart from the first; these policies, although differing from capitalism, are hardly revolutionary. As a critique of the current school of thought: excellent, but in terms of coming up with policy: only good.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last a bit of co-operation!, 14 July 2005
For anybody that's feeling particularly poor, this is a wonderful book. Easy to read and a real 'page-turner', I couldn't put it down. I was really impressed that so may disciplines had been referenced throughout, psychology, sociology, economics etc, and think it's high time that professionals stopped trying to guard their particular corners and worked together. A publication that could be read alongside 'The Rebel Sell - How counterculture became consumerculture', as another indicator of society's
growing disillusion with money being the answer to all problems. Highly recommended.
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46 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Important topic, important book, 7 Mar 2005
By A Customer
Richard Layard is very convincing in his argument that more money does not necessarily make you happier. This is an important and very hot topic (just last month McConnell's 'Make Money, Be Happy' argued a similar case but on a more personal 'what do I do about it' level).
Layard is an economist, but he brings in helpings of philosophy, psychology and neuroscience along the way. It's a very thought provoking book.
If McConnell, Layard and others are right, as the evidence suggests they are, then the question is what this means for capitalism as we know it? If more money doesn't make us happier than capitalism starts to look a bit rocky.
Layard's Happiness is the No Logo style agenda book laying out all the evidence and exploring what does and doesn't make us happy. McConnell's Make Money Be Happy is perfect if you are trying to work out how on earth you find the right balance between money and happiness in your life. Actually they complement each other perfectly.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting - but not a self help book, 25 Jun 2010
This review is from: Happiness: Lessons from a New Science (Paperback)
When I bought this one I was half expecting a self-help book, or at the very least some significant elements of this. Unfortunately the self help element of the book is left to a chapter or two at the end, the answers being mainly buddhism and mediation. Most of the book builds a picture of what makes people happy, but very much from an economists point of view, with some elements of psychology thrown in. Confusingly the book says that real income has risen over the years which is in direct contradiction to other books that I have read. I don't know who to believe!

Whilst interesting for the general reader I feel its written more for policy and decision makers looking to create strategies that target increasing happiness. To the rest of us its a quite a detailed economic and psychological analysis of happiness but is not a book to buy if you are looking for instruction or self-help on improving your life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful but a frustrating read - worth persevering with, 1 May 2011
This review is from: Happiness: Lessons from a New Science (Paperback)
Packed with fascinating facts and ideas, this book could have been really important, if it had just been a bit better written. Layard eschews the established narrative structure of populist social scientists such as Levitt and Gladwell. Instead we get a stream of facts and ideas, a bit like sitting through a PowerPoint presentation, albeit quite a good one. The bullet point approach is frustrating though as the ideas and evidence are often too sketchy to really engage with.

The first part is about the 'science of happiness' and why despite better living standards public happiness has not increased. Layard suggests happiness can now be measured objectively, and we can pretty much say what causes it - family support, financial security, rewarding work, friends, good health, reasonable political freedom and reflective personal values). Absolute wealth is surprisingly unimportant; we soon used to extras and it is actually comparative wealth (i.e. social status) that is more critical.

The second part of the book suggests 'happiness' as a better public policy goal than 'economic growth' and so we should focus on stability, security, eliminating unemployment and poverty, and aim for a less materialistic, more social ('family friendly') and even perhaps spiritual approach to public life. It's fascinating, subtle, convincing stuff and well worth persevering with.

It's a shame so few of our growth-obsessed politicians are likely to read it.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Modern Britain!! Read this book and act!! Not too late!!, 20 Aug 2006
By 
Mr. C. A. Lillie (Wallasey, Merseyside United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Happiness: Lessons from a New Science (Paperback)
I have worked in the British Mental Health Service for 15 years and I have read many sources on what leads to happiness, what impacts on happiness and ultimately how we can chemically affect happiness, and this is is out there on its own!!

Layard and his sources create a book that not only informs the reader on a tangible and readable level, but also offers some sort of hope for policy within a country that is rapidly mimicking the USA's downward spiral echoing the "material wealth DOES not lead to happiness" theory and the constant evidence to support this, that we appear to ignore on a daily basis. Layard takes very significant and comprehensive research and presents it in a way that everybody can understand. Every outcome of his points reflect the literature he reviews. No presumtpions are made without substantive evidence. While this could sound overly scientific to the casual reader, it is not. The books strength is, it is VERY READABLE on this, a subject, that is essenital to the health of the nation. If his final recommendations where acted upon within Government Policy, the UK would move away from its worrying figures developing in mental health.

The economist in Layard is obvious, though in the same way Tim Harford (The Undercover Economist) and Steve's Levitt and Dubner (Freakanomics) employ their trade in making a traditionally unappealing subject 'appealing', Layard succeeds effortlessly.

To summize, and this may be a somewhat extreme statement, if everybody in Britian read a chapter a week of this book, and applied it to their daily life, the results could be miraculous for the health of a nation. If there was a doctorate in Happiness for the taking, this would be the cirriculum.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richard Layard adds to the to sum of human happiness, 29 Dec 2009
By 
John Williams (Apeldoorn, Netherlands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Happiness: Lessons from a New Science (Paperback)
Yes, and three cheers for him. He could have written a dry academic tome that would have bored the pants off most of us, thereby adding to the sum of human misery, but no, he practises what he preaches. He has written a jolly interesting book that has added to the sum of happiness. Which is not to say that this book lacks depth or thorough research. Clearly Layard has done his homework and given the matter a lot of thought. The book may be readable, each chapter beginning with a funny cartoon and a couple of pithy quotations, but this does not make it lightweight. Anyone wanting more meat to chew on can go to the footnotes and bibliography at the end, or look up the appendices online. How unlike those writers and scholars who seem to think that their erudition will go unrecognized if it is not couched in impenetrable language.

Layard's basic premise is that happiness is real, it can be measured, and it should be taken into account by economists and policy makers who at present are more obsessed with economic growth and GDP. As far as I'm concerned, he was knocking on an open door here. Why has our happiness in the West remained stagnant over the past sixty or more years while our economic wealth has skyrocketed? Some of Lyard's conclusions seem obvious to me, but perhaps not to everyone. But what added spice to this book for me were those conclusions that were not obvious and challenged some of my beliefs. For example, I'm no fan of self help books, religion or abortion, yet what do we find out? That self help books and religion can be shown to make people happier, and that the crime rate goes down once access to abortion becomes easier. And I wonder what lies behind the criticism that the book is full of political posturing. Layard may seem to lean slightly towards the left (depending on your own standpoint, I suppose), but on the whole he handles his material honestly; ideologies of both left and right come in for roughly equal amounts praise or criticism in so far as they add to or subtract from the sum of human happiness.

When I first saw this book I imagined that it might be, if not another self help book, at least one which concentrated on the psychological or 'spiritual' aspects of happiness. In fact Layard is a economist, and although he does draw on the findings of individual and social psychology, psychiatry and religion, the book is rooted in his background in economics, which, for me at least, gave it a few novel and enjoyable twists.

So read this book and be happy.
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Happiness: Lessons from a New Science
Happiness: Lessons from a New Science by Richard Layard (Paperback - 6 April 2006)
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