TED Conversations

Nic Marks

Director, Happiness Works


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Should Governments start to measure what really matters to people - their happiness? Or should they stay out of such a private matter?

David Cameron, UK prime minister, has recently announced that the UK will create a new indicator of National Well-being. He said as much in his TED talk last year and now he is walking his TED talk! This is something we have argued for at new economics foundation for some time - and I also lay out my thoughts in my recent TED book - The Happiness Manifesto. But are we right? Is this a valid aim of government? Or should government just simply stay out of such a private realm? Indeed can government stay out of this realm? Fo example unemployment makes people unhappy but does inflation? Should a government therefore concentrate more on security of jobs than controlling the money supply? What about education - should kids be educated to fulfil labour market requirements or to lead fulfilling lives? So many areas that Governments touch our lives - the economy, the financial markets, health services, schools, local engagement and the built environment. How could they be different - nay better?
DISCUSS ... I would love to know TEDsters views!


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    Feb 25 2011: I've often pondered if the trick to life is to maximize the area under your personal graph of happiness perception(introspection) vs time across a lifetime. Assume you have zero happiness before you are born and zero happiness once you are dead. This would involve me assessing how happy I am right now on a regular basis. I guess the idea is to add all the graphs together for a nation. Now that is a trick. Prescribing an intervention for improvement an even better trick. How about we try Low interest rates to induce rising house prices? Everybody happy? Hmmm, seems like we tried that.

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