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Happiness and economics: A Buddhist perspective

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  • Colin Ash

    () (University of Reading, Department of Economics, Business School, UK)

Abstract

Economics and particularly economic policy often seems to focus almost exclusively on the growth of income and creation of wealth. Consumer spending, the provision of public services, investment by private and public sectors, and international trade undoubtedly contribute to well-being. However economists have always viewed Gross National Product (GNP) as an imperfect measure of human welfare. One’s personal values and philosophy of life also matter, as do strategies and techniques for mood control and raising each individual’s baseline or set-point level of happiness.This paper briefly summarises the research findings which have led to this gradual and ongoing shift of focus. Then we take a Buddhist perspective on happiness and economics. Many of the recent research findings are consistent with Buddhist analysis, particularly its analysis of the conditioning process leading to unhappiness. Furthermore, Buddhist practices provide skilful means for the mind to control the mood. The paper ends, however, on a cautionary note: in what sense, if any, is the “greatest happiness” the Buddhist goal?

Suggested Citation

  • Colin Ash, 2007. "Happiness and economics: A Buddhist perspective," Society and Economy, Akadémiai Kiadó, Hungary, vol. 29(2), pages 201-222, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:aka:soceco:v:29:y:2007:i:2:p:201-222
    Note: An earlier version of this paper was published in Hsi Lai Journal of Humanistic Buddhism, Vol. 7, 2006, pp. 295–310.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mabsout, Ramzi, 2015. "Mindful capability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 86-97.

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    Keywords

    income; happiness; Buddhism;

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