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Happiness: Lessons from a New Science Paperback – 6 Apr 2006
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In this landmark book, Richard Layard shows that there is a paradox at the heart of our lives. Most people want more income. Yet as societies become richer, they do not become happier. This is not just anecdotally true, it is the story told by countless pieces of scientific research. We now have sophisticated ways of measuring how happy people are, and all the evidence shows that on average people have grown no happier in the last fifty years, even as average incomes have more than doubled. In fact, the First World has more depression, more alcoholism and more crime than fifty years ago. This paradox is true of Britain, the United States, continental Europe, and Japan. What is going on?
About the Author
Richard Layard is a leading economist who believes that the happiness of society does not necessarily equate to its income. He is best known for his work on unemployment and inequality, whihc provided the intellectual basis for Britain's improved unemployment policies. He founded the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics, and since 2000 he has been a member of the House of Lords. His research into the subject of happiness brings together findings from such diverse areas as psychology, neuroscience, economics, sociology and philosophy.
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Some parts of the book are heavy going for the interested layman and I found the (necessary) welter of footnotes a little overwhelming, but the general tone is sufficiently light to reward perseverance. I was particularly interested in the comments on the fact that society expects people wanting to adopt a child to jump through all manner of hoops but does not expect people wanting to have a child of their own to obtain any sort of licence to do so. How very true that is.