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26 Nov 2010 | Independent
It is easy to mock the notion. There is something of a silly
frivolity bound up in the word happy.
It was the 18th-century philosopher Jeremy Bentham who first
popularised the notion that politics ought to aim at promoting "the
greatest happiness of the greatest number". The problem his
followers hit upon was working out a way to measure something as
subjective as the feeling of what it is to be happy - and how to
weigh the happiness of different sections of society against one
another in the trade-off that is modern politics.
Even so, the notion of an index of well-being
has tempted politicians ever since. The last to try it in Britain
was Tony Blair who held "life satisfaction" seminars and
commissioned various studies before concluding that happiness
changed shape like mercury and slipped through the fingers. More
recently, the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, asked two Nobel
economists, Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen, to come up with a way
to measure well-being. Now David Cameron has asked the Office for
National Statistics to do the same.
Read article here
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