Lessons from a New Science

Written by:

Additional Formats
  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780143037019
  • 320 Pages
  • Penguin Books
  • Adult


There is a paradox at the heart of our lives. We all want more money, but as societies become richer, they do not become happier. This is not speculation: It’s 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.

The central question the great economist Richard Layard asks in Happiness is this: If we really wanted to be happier, what would we do differently? First we’d have to see clearly what conditions generate happiness and then bend all our efforts toward producing them. That is what this book is about-the causes of happiness and the means we have to effect it.

Until recently there was too little evidence to give a good answer to this essential question, but, Layard shows us, thanks to the integrated insights of psychology, sociology, applied economics, and other fields, we can now reach some firm conclusions, conclusions that will surprise you. Happiness is an illuminating road map, grounded in hard research, to a better, happier life for us all.

Table of Contents


Part One: The Problem

1. What’s the problem?
2. What is happiness?
3. Are we getting happier?
4. If you’re so rich, why aren’t you happy?
5. So what does make us happy?
6. What’s going wrong?
7. Can we pursue a common good?

Part Two: What Can Be Done?

8. The Greatest Happiness: Is that the goal?
9. Does economics have a clue?
10. How can we tame the rat race?
11. Can we afford to be secure?
12. Can mind control mood?
13. Do drugs help?
14. Conclusions for today’s world

My thanks
Sources of tables, charts and diagrams
List of annexes