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Seminar Series 1: Lecture 4 - Prof Lord Richard Layard

1 May 2004

United Kingdom



Key ideas:

  • Happiness is objective and measurable.
  • Health improves happiness, and vice versa. Happiness is a good different to all others - it is the good.
  • For populations above the poverty line, increasing income does not increase happiness.
  • In general, people place more value on relative wealth / income than absolute.
  • Individualism negatively affects happiness.
  • Better concepts of the common good (compassion to others) and of the private good (compassion to oneself) are required.
  • Public policy should be based on producing the greatest happiness.
Layard Image 1

About the speaker

Professor Lord Richard Layard, Founder, Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics

He is also one of the first economists to work on happiness, and his main current interest is how better mental health could improve our social and economic life. He is founder-director of LSE's Centre for Economic Performance, and is co-director of the Centre's programme on Community Wellbeing. In 2005 he wrote Happiness: Lessons from a New Science, which was published in 20 languages. He continues to find significant effects of relative income on happiness and to emphasise the importance of non-income variables on aggregate happiness. And in 2018, he co-authored a book called The Origins of Happiness: The science of wellbeing over the life course. His latest book, Wellbeing: Science and Policy (2023), is the first textbook on wellbeing science.

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