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Happiness questions and government responses: A pilot study of what the general public makes of it all


  • Paul Dolan


The results from interviews conducted with 51 respondents represent a small contribution to an empirical research agenda designed to find out what goes into wellbeing reports and the appropriateness for policy analysis of what comes out. It appears that life satisfaction ratings are retrospective assessments of how life has gone thus far, or at least how the last few years have gone. Most respondents would be reluctant to take a pill to improve their life satisfaction. Respondents were also generally in favour of providing good public services and perhaps promoting the conditions for happiness rather than focussing on happiness itself. Some people did not think the government should be responsible for promoting happiness directly and others were against happiness as a goal of policy because people were seen as being too different for policies to actually make any difference. Convincing people like these of the merits of policies designed to improve SWB requires the development of good measures and design of good policies. good policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Dolan, 2011. "Happiness questions and government responses: A pilot study of what the general public makes of it all," Revue d'économie politique, Dalloz, vol. 121(1), pages 3-15.
  • Handle: RePEc:cai:repdal:redp_211_0003

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