How happy are people today? Were people happier in the past? How satisfied with their lives are people in different societies? And how do our living conditions affect all of this?

These are difficult questions to answer; but they are questions that undoubtedly matter for each of us personally. Indeed, today, life satisfaction, happiness and “well-being” are central research areas in the social sciences, including in ‘mainstream’ economics.

Health economists and social scientists often recommend that measures of subjective well-being should augment the usual measures of economic prosperity, such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP).But how can happiness be measured?

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is an ingenious measure. It is a powerful policy tool in determining the fate of a country. But is that sufficient? We require to pay more attention to other measures to complete the picture, some of which already exist and for the other which may require enquiry. Measures of wealth, equality, leisure, health, holistic health, wellbeing, happiness and net domestic product, adjusted for negatives such as pollution etc. are places to explore.

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