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While interests in issues pertaining to happiness have been long-standing, we have witnessed recently an increasing focus by both scholars and members of the general public. ‘Subjective well-being (SWB) is an extremely active area of research with about 170,000 articles and books published on the topic in the past 15 years’ (Diener et al. 2018, Abstract). Not only psychologists (e.g. Kahneman et al. 1999, Diener et al. 2010, 2018) and sociologists (e.g. Veenhoven 1984, 1993, 2010, 2017), but also economists have made substantial investigations.1 After about 2–3 decades of gestation since the first publication on happiness issues by an economist (Easterlin 1974), contributions from economists has mushroomed over the last two decades or so.2 I published a paper (Ng 1978) four years after Easterlin and continue to maintain interest until now. In this book, I hope to show how an individual and a society/country may increase happiness. Despite the fact that happiness has a genetic element (Lykken & Tellegen 1996, Lyubomirsky & Layous 2013, Minkov & Bond 2017), it can be increased (Lyubomirsky 2005, Carrillo et al. 2020);3 one may even learn or be trained to be happier (e.g. Loveday et al. 2018, Rowland & Curry 2018, Ruch et al. 2018, Liu et al. 2020). At least for myself, my happiness has increased by many times since its low (but still positive) during my early thirties. I hope that many readers may learn from this book to achieve the same or even larger successes. My advice is not just based on my personal experience, but also on the research findings of many researchers from whom I have learned enormously. I believe that this book is useful not only for an individual wishing to increase happiness, or for a government willing to do good for the people, but also for a happiness researcher and an economist if she wants her economics to contribute to social welfare. (On the other hand, the concern for the danger of a paternalistic government should also be kept in mind; see, e.g. Frey 2018).


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happiness, subjective wellbeing

Happiness – Concept, Measurement and Promotion