Happiness by Richard Layard


There is a paradox at the heart of our lives. We all want more money, but as societies become richer, they do not become happier. This is not speculation: It's the story told by countless pieces of scientific research. We now have sophisticated ways of measuring how happy people are, and all the evidence shows that on average people have grown no happier in the last fifty years, even as average incomes have more than doubled.The central question ...

Details Happiness

Release DateJun 27th, 2006
PublisherPenguin Books
GenrePsychology, Nonfiction, Economics, Science, Philosophy, Self Help

Reviews Happiness

  • Nicole
    First half: somewhat faulty science whose flaws were mildly offensive to my sensibilities. Example: a study of nuns showed that 21% of those most cheerful died in the following nine years, compared to 55% of least cheerful nuns. Layard claims this "shows how happiness can increase a person's life." How naively speculative to assume causality between these two variables!! Perhaps the nuns were happy for the very reason that they were healthy. Or m...
  • Realini
    Happiness- Lessons From A New Science by Richard LayardAnother version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at:- https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list... and http://realini.blogspot.ro/This is a Fantastic book.Really!It touches so many aspects of happiness that I am in awe.From Bhutan to the Academy Awards Winners.From taxation to teaching morals in schools.The different indicators that make the differences in well being levels ...
  • Brian
    This book was pretty interesting. Layard is an economist and he talks about how it would seem better for nations to use a measure of happiness as a marker of progress rather than gross national product. He does a good job of evaluating the science of happiness (enough to satisfy my rather critical eye) and concludes that we can now measure happiness well enough in a meaningful way. The book ranges from the science of happiness, to the economics o...
  • Gawaind
    A book on the economics of happiness, that is mistakenly placed under psychology. Plainly - economists tend to be clumsy when counting happiness, and Layard gives us some tools to count correctly. In sum, love brings happiness. Money does, but not much past a middle class amount. We tend to compare ourselves to our neighbors. Lots of neat little psychological truths about how we make economic decisions. For people who want to learn about economic...
  • Holly
    so far I really like this! Yes, part of my grad program - this week's topic: Taking Happiness Seriously.I should send this book to my ex-husband. he thinks fun and happiness are utterly unimportant.* * * * * *Interesting - don't agree with everything, but written by an economist - so - what can I expect? However, he's moving in a good direction I think.
  • Jens Rinnelt
    Refreshing to see that an economist suggest we should use happiness instead of money as an indicator for prosperity. Richard Layard lays out seven causes of happiness from family to financial situation or income, work, community and friends, health, personal freedom, and personal values.Based on scientific research the way for us to become more happy is to engage in a goal that is outside of ourselves. Taking part in the ongoing rat race and our ...
  • YeJi
    I was looking for a happier read after All Quiet on the Western Front then found this on my shelf. Although it isn’t what I expected it to be, I found it enjoyable to read through the economics principles that I have studied at school. Many of the papers were ones that I have already read, so the material wasn’t completely new to me. Richard Layard has researched a lot for this book, and it shows. He cites different papers to make a cohesive ...
  • Chad
    Interesting summary of the research on happiness with some very strong opinions on how to apply it. I was a bit troubled by his assertion that mobility is bad for happiness, because research shows that when we live in communities with more "others"--those not like ourselves--there is more mental illness and crime. That's the last thing we need to hear in today's world. However, I do like his assertions that we can do more to educate youth on emot...
  • Alex
    Part 1 of this book is great, for the most part. It contains some various interesting statistics and thoughts on various societal and genetic changes and their effects on happiness.Part 2, and Part 3, are a whole different story. The ideas are severely underdeveloped and mostly lazy, to the point where it feels like someone submitting a general proposal for writing a paper rather than a paper itself. Too many opinions are presented as justified a...
  • Miet
    I'm being carefully positive about this book. Although I think the general ideas the author offers about happiness are correct, I did raise my eyebrows quite a lot while reading. Some of the studies described to make his point, seem almost too simple and not very trustworthy.This book is 13 years old, I would like to see an update about it. Also, I would like to know more about the effect of overpopulation on our happiness, which I personally bel...
  • Mario La Pergola
    I feel this book left pretty much nothing of value in me after reading the last page
  • David Laing
  • Heather
    I really liked this book. I have read several books on happiness lately and thought this one really made some good points. As an economist, Layard argues that we should be paying more attention to what makes us happy and helping countries and communities work towards that instead of just economic development. After all, it's more than money that makes us happy. If we were to measure happiness instead of income by country we might be able to see b...
  • Ian Vollbracht
    An instant classic. There is a great deal of wisdom in these pages.
  • Beckie
    i think this is actually the one recommended in the review i read, but it was still pretty interesting. although, i did get kind of depressed at how being miserable changes your brain and weakens your immune system and makes you die sooner (apparently oscar winners live longer than mere nominees). the book is essentially an argument for making happiness the ultimate aim of society, and describes the kind of public policy that would be required. h...
  • Lucy
    i think this is actually the one recommended in the review i read, but it was still pretty interesting. although, i did get kind of depressed at how being miserable changes your brain and weakens your immune system and makes you die sooner (apparently oscar winners live longer than mere nominees). the book is essentially an argument for making happiness the ultimate aim of society, and describes the kind of public policy that would be required. h...
  • Vishvapani
    A persuasive presentation of Layard's belief that our aim as a society should be to increase happiness, as opposed to increasing income, GDP, health etch as ends in themselves. It's exceptionally clear and simple, while drawing on vast knowledge of the field. My main reservation is that Layard's idea of happiness is rather simplistic, at least as presented here. He cites Mill's objection that there are different kinds and levels of happiness, but...
  • Sally McRogerson
    A study of a combination of philosophy, economic, psychology and political analysis have gone into the writing of this book. The outcomes seem to me to be a trifle obvious. I expected some new nuggets of information but these are the conclusions it draws. A spiritual life and altruism = happiness. Consumerism = discontent. Anti-depressants make people feel better. Taxes redistribute wealth. We hate to lose anything that we already have twice as m...
  • Tomas Chaigneau
    I was surprised to see such a low rating for this book. I thought it was fantastic. Of course it glossed over many issues and remained relatively general, however it provides a very comprehensive argument for a move away from GDP. It also gives us a number of ideas and arguments that we may want to pick up and delve into more detail... Probably one of the best popular science books I've read. What's more, it doesn't get stuck in criticising the s...
  • Alan Hanssen
    Second time reading this book, I still read it like it was the first time, haha.Having an economist talking about happiness it is an interesting experience. Because of the ambition of the book, it would need to have three thousand pages to cover everything in details. Instead, you can see topics on the surface and pick other articles or books to gain a more specialized knowledge.It is a great experience to see positive psychology out of its envir...
  • Adam
    This was really quite bad. It should've been an interesting book, and I've read articles about happiness and other emotions that have been interesting. Neurobiology can be interesting! It's possible! However, this is really about 3 surveys stretched out -- using huge font, huge margins, huge graphs, etc. -- to fill a meager book. I was really disappointed. After reading a couple books on the brain (A User's Guide to the Brain and The Ghost in the...
  • Ruth Baker
    This is an I retesting book and pulls together the science and politics of happiness relatively well. It has an economics slant which is interesting but peculiarly emotionless given the subject matter. The philosophical side is based on Jeremy Benthams utilitarianism which I think is greatly flawed. His comparison with both Buddhism and Christianity is not well presented and doesn't exactly misinterpret those two religions but doesn't show the sa...
  • Tracy
    Unfortunately - I didn't get a chance to finish the book completely - so I hope to continue reading it some other time. I really enjoyed some of the studies regarding happiness that he reports in the book, and I think I would have enjoyed it more if that had been the emphasis of the book. However, the book looks at happiness - or rather unhappiness - as a type of social problem, and thus how we should respond to it to try to fix it. I imagine tha...
  • Kevin
    An unevenly written book by a senior economist examining what brings happiness. The strongest part is when the author examines survey data regarding reported happiness levels and their correlates, as well as when he makes quite reasonable public policy proposals regarding how to promote societal happiness (and therefore our won). The author's arguments are considerably weaker (and, at times, invalid) when examining writing from other fields, e.g....
  • Chad Andrews
    Flawed book, but love the concept, and the book creates a loose framework that can and should be built upon. With Moore's Law, technology, coupled with globalization, will increasing (and exponentially) lead us to become beings ruled by the concept of pure optimization. As this occurs, happiness will suffer and we must have more stringent awareness and governance over principles of humanity that have heretofore been taken for granted. Kudos to La...
  • Ian
    Every economist should read this book. Written by a pschyologist (if I remember correctly), it sets out from fundimental research and economics exactly why a focus on money as the measure of happiness and good is very very wrong and a huge mistake.Well-written and easy to follow for a lay person but with all the fancy charts n such to make people who like such things happy too.
  • Tom
    Why is it that in the U.S. we are richer as a nation than ever before and yet are not really any happier than 1950? Richard Layard investigates just what it is that makes us happy and how we might want to rethink how we measure success as a result. Great starting point for anyone interested in positive psychology.
  • Darragh Mccashin
    Very accessible book for everyone. The author is an economist who is basically spoon-feeding his audience the material, which consists of outlining the debates going on between economics, psychology, neuroscience, social policy and biology (to name but a few). Nice introduction, shame its not as easy-to-understand when it comes to journal articles!
  • Kate McCarthy
    The writing isn't that interesting or done particularly well, like an attempt to simplify academia for the common man, with mediocre results. First part overviews research in the economics of happiness in a pretty bland way with unsurprising outcomes, then the author reviews routes to happiness, advising for those he favors without much argument.