27 August 2011

More on Kids and Happiness

Justin Wolfers on why having children may not make you happy and the shortcomings of happiness-targeting policies:
When I ask other people who would say their kids had made them always happy, they’d say they’d still have kids and the reason is they get meaning from them. Or some deeper sense of something or other. And so it turns out there’s more to life than happiness. That’s actually really important because if you go back and think about these happiness debates, people are saying politicians should target happiness. Well if we really believed that, the first thing we should do is have mass sterilization policies. Now it turns out that that’s an absurd suggestion. And it’s absurd because there’s a whole bunch of other things we also care about. Now what that suggests is not that the happiness project is– is wrong and needs to stop, but it suggests that it needs to expand and start to take account of these other things. These crazy things that make us do things like go out and have kids.
I'd be interested to hear Justin's suggestions for how the UK should build on the new list of happiness questions to be included in national surveys.
  • Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?
  • Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?
  • Overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday?
  • Overall, to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?

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