Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, Dr Jessica Pykett's recent article in The Conversation analyses that although we now know a substantial amount about happiness, happiness as a whole has not improved.
While people might generally feel that their happiness is something intangible which cannot be given a number, this new measurement approach is increasingly popular among governments who want to move beyond economic growth as a measure of a nation’s value and progress. Meanwhile, a global movement for transforming current economic models to one based on well-being is gathering support.
It’s true that we now know a substantial amount about happiness, including who is happiest and where, social patterns in happiness according to your age and gender, and what drives individual and national levels of happiness, such as income, education, social relationships, good national governance, and health. Yet levels of global economic inequality and high rates of global depression and mental distress persist.
This is a pressing issue, and should affect how national governments, cities, and local authorities go about their modern attempts to improve happiness levels. The problem is that as the field has taken off, a particular understanding of happiness has taken hold. And it is increasingly clear that this definition is limiting.