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If we are not rich can we still be happy? OU academic investigates

Rich beyond your wildest dreams, but does that make you happy? Professor Paul Anand argues that it is factors other than simply wealth which determine your happiness levels and to mark World Happiness Day this weekend he introduces the measurement concept and the value of flourishing.

The latest findings of the World Happiness Report, were published this week and put Denmark as the happiest country with Switzerland second (but the UK dwindling in 23rd place).

The report reviews the state of happiness in the world using various measurements including health, access to medical care, job security and political freedom. It is the fourth of its kind to be produced since 2012 and its publication reflects calls for more attention to be paid to happiness levels as a criteria for government policy.

World Happiness Report top 10:

  1. Denmark
  2. Switzerland
  3. Iceland
  4. Norway
  5. Finland
  6. Canada
  7. Netherlands
  8. New Zealand
  9. Australia
  10. Sweden

Professor Paul Anand and his team’s research involved philosophers, economists and social scientists, with contributions from a range of practitioners from the OECD to YOUGOV. He explains some of the conclusions they reached in his new book Happiness Explained.

The book provides a novel non-technical overview of human wellbeing including the latest evidence from psychology and economics.  Professor Anand argues for and illustrates a new approach to policy and practice in education, health services, and economics.  As a result he helps readers understand what wellbeing is and how it can be measured and analysed.

The book draws on scientific research from economics, psychology, and philosophy, as well as a range of other disciplines, to outline a new standard in which human flourishing plays a central role in the assessment of national and global progress.

‘Happy to applaud’

It shows why the traditional national income approach is limited as a measure of human wellbeing and demonstrates how the contributors to happiness, wellbeing, and quality of life can be measured and understood across the human life course. Discussing wide-ranging aspects, from parenting, decent employment, friendship, education, and health in old age, through to money, autonomy, and fairness, as well as personal strategies and governmental polices used in the pursuit of happiness, it offers a science-based understanding of human flourishing.

Professor Anand says: “In terms of international and global governance, the world seems to be experimenting with different forms and none appears satisfactory to date. Europe is a federation of member states rather than of peoples, the UN struggles to prevent wars, Americans are particularly suspicious of central government and the grand experiments in central planning have not been obvious successes. And yet…we see many examples from around the world where wellbeing is beginning to edge closer to the spotlights of policy and practice in NGOs, governments and workplaces.

There will be critics, no doubt, but the rise of human flourishing in our assessment of economic progress is one trend I feel happy to applaud.”



About Author

Christine works in the Media Relations team within the Communications Unit at The Open University. She is an experienced BBC journalist, sub-editor and news editor and has a background in regional newspapers. After moving to PR she worked as a press officer for the Zoological Society of London. She has a BSc in Social Sciences with Politics from The Open University and focuses on stories from the Faculty of Social Science and widening access in HE. Chris swims regularly and has a pet Tortoise called Lightning.

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