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Happiness: has social science got a clue?

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Monday 3, Tuesday 4 and Wednesday 5 March, 6pm 
Old Theatre, Old Building

People want to be happy. But do we know what makes us happy, or how society is best organised to promote happiness?

Richard Layard, co-director of the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), will talk about happiness in a series of Lionel Robbins Memorial Lectures on Monday 3, Tuesday 4 and Wednesday 5 March at LSE.

He will focus on the definition of happiness, the causes, and what is needed to create a happier society, reviewing evidence from economics, psychology, sociology and neuroscience to draw conclusions about what priorities would serve us better than those which are currently pursued.

What is happiness and are we getting happier?
Monday 3 March

Brain-imaging proves that when people report their feelings, they generally report an objective reality. And people's reports show that they have got no happier since World War Two, despite massive economic growth.

What causes happiness?
Tuesday 4 March

Happiness depends on what you have relative to a norm. And the norm is profoundly affected by what others have and by what you have got used to. So we should not sacrifice too much in order to increase income. For example, sacrificing too much leisure is a danger that can be avoided by sufficiently high taxes.

How can we make a happier society?
Wednesday 5 March

People value secure jobs, secure private lives and a secure environment. In the new social democracy, policy should focus more heavily on these objectives. But the project will fail without a restated commitment that we should pursue the greatest happiness of mankind.

Richard Layard is co-director of the Centre for Economic Performance at LSE. He has written widely on unemployment, inflation, education, inequality and post-Communist reform. Since 2000 he has been a member of the House of Lords.

All the Lionel Robbins Memorial Lectures are free and open to all, with no ticket required.


To reserve a press seat for these lectures, please contact Jessica Winterstein on 020 7955 7060 or email j.winterstein@lse.ac.uk| 


The Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) is an interdisciplinary research centre at LSE established by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) in 1990 and is now one of the leading economic research groups in Europe.

It studies the determinants of economic performance at the level of the company, the nation and the global economy by focusing on the major links between globalisation, technology and institutions (above all the educational system and the labour market) and their impact on productivity, inequality, employment and stability.

For more information on the Centre for Economic Performance, visit http://cep.lse.ac.uk/|

Press cuttings

International Herald Tribune
Never too rich or too happy (23 July 05)
Article about research into the state of happiness. Richard Layard, professor of economics at the LSE, said in a 2003 lecture at the school that GDP is an inaccurate measure of happiness.

3 March 2003