Should happiness be at the centre of government policy? Does having more really do anything for our well-being? Can legislation raise national contentment?
One of Britain's leading economists Professor Lord Layard, and one of the country's foremost psychiatrists, Professor Raj Persaud, debate the future of our culture of contentment in a public event at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) on Tuesday 5 July.
In Lord Layard's new book, Happiness: lessons from a new science, he argues that the relentless pursuit of economic growth is exacting a high price from the national psyche - leaving depression and emotional impoverishment in its wake. His polemic is that we should radically rethink economic and social policy to reorient it towards increasing the happiness of the population.
In contrast Dr Raj Persaud's new book, The Motivated Mind, an antithesis to Lord Layard's book, suggests that sustained happiness at the personal level is not going to be achieved by macroeconomic tinkering and has more to do with personal adjustment and attitude. He warns that attempts to manufacture happiness through policy directives in the past have been doomed to failure, because of a fundamental failure to appreciate the elusive and personal nature of sustained long term well-being.
Professor Lord (Richard) Layard was founder director of LSE's Centre for Economic Performance and intellectual architect of the New Deal for the unemployed. He now heads the centre's programme on well-being.
Dr Raj Persaud is consultant psychiatrist at The Maudsley Hospital, London; senior lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry, University of London; Gresham Professor for public understanding of psychiatry and director at the centre for public engagement, Kings College, London.
The Politics of Happiness is on Tuesday 5 July at 6.30pm in the Old Theatre, Old Building, LSE, Houghton Street, London WC2A. This event is free and open to all with no ticket required. Entry is on a first come, first serve basis.
To request a press seat, please contact Jessica Winterstein, LSE Press Office, on 020 7955 7060 or email j.Winterstein@lse.ac.uk
The Australian Magazine
Happy yet? (22 Oct 05)
Are we wired to be cheerful, or are some of us destined to languish in abject misery? Dorothy Wade reports on the new science of feeling good. Happiness has finally burst out of the academic closet. Several weighty volumes on the subject have been published this year, and on the same night as the RI event, the economist Lord Layard and the psychiatrist Dr Raj Persaud were debating The Politics of Happiness at LSE.
So what do you have to do to find happiness? (2 Oct 05)
Reference to public lecture by economist Richard Layard, LSE, and the psychiatrist Dr Raj Persaud on the politics of happiness at LSE.
State of joy (6 August 05)
Reference to lecture at LSE with LSE's Richard Layard and psychiatrist Dr Raj Persaud on how happy the state can make people.
Diary (7 July 05)
Reference to Raj Persaud, debate at the LSE on "The Politics of Happiness".