In recent years, a number of nations—from Bhutan to Britain, France, China and Brazil —have begun to incorporate measures of happiness into their benchmarks for national progress. Even in the United States— where the Declaration of Independence promises all citizens the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”— policymakers are beginning to consider the merits of measuring happiness. In her latest book, The Pursuit of Happiness: An Economy of Well-being (Brookings Press, 2011), Brookings Senior Fellow Carol Graham explores what we know about the determinants of happiness, across and within countries at different stages of development. She also examines both the promises and potential pitfalls of injecting the “economics of happiness” into policymaking.
On September 28, the Brookings Institution hosted a discussion with Carol Graham on her book and whether happiness can be a new marker for economic progress in the United States and across the world. Panelists included David Brooks, New York Times op-ed columnist; and Brookings Senior Fellow Isabel V. Sawhill. Brookings President Strobe Talbott provided introductory remarks. Carol Lancaster, dean of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, moderated the discussion.
After the program, the panelists took audience questions.