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Should Individual Happiness Be a Political Goal?

A new study examines the benefit of developing a unit of measurement that could serve as a proxy for individual happiness and psychological well-being.

The measure could reflect societal conditions and the effectiveness of social policies. The metric could then be used in the same manner that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) evaluates the effectiveness of economic policies.

The article is published in the journal Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences (PIBBS).

Authors and psychologists Drs. Shigehiro Oishi and Ed Diener examined research evaluating the effectiveness of policy related to unemployment rate, tax rate, child care, and environmental issues to determine if it’s possible to study how this policy affects individuals’ psychological well-being.

They found that the research does indeed illustrate the degree of suffering among people in different types of difficult circumstances.

For example, recent research has found that people with severe disabilities are roughly two times less satisfied with their lives than those who are merely unemployed.

The researchers concluded that such findings can and should help prioritize policy-related welfare programs and regulations.

The researchers wrote, “Self-reported well-being can be used to evaluate whether a specific policy had an impact on population at large. For instance, did a change in an education policy (e.g., No Child Left Behind Act of 2001) increase stress among parents? Self-reported well-being data will provide an answer to such a question.”

The researchers wrote that periodically recording (e.g., monthly, quarterly) citizens’ well-being will allow policymakers and researchers to test whether a certain policy had an intended effect and whether a society is making progress toward its ideal.

“We believe that an ideal society is a society where citizens feel happy, feel satisfied, and find their lives to be meaningful.”

Source: Sage/EurekAlert

Should Individual Happiness Be a Political Goal?

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Should Individual Happiness Be a Political Goal?. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 22, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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