Can Government Make You Happy?

Countries as diverse as Ecuador, Slovenia and the United Arab Emirates have created ministries for happiness (or the equivalent) to try and mainstream the concept.

(World Government Summit, Dubai) — The question of whether a government should be responsible for the happiness of its people is at least as old as 1776, when the Declaration of Independence made “happiness” a national aspiration alongside “life” and “liberty.”      

In the centuries since, however, that question has largely been abandoned — or at the very least relegated to realm of personal well being. But in recent years a number of governments around the world have coalesced around the idea that citizens’ happiness is an indicator against which governments should design policy.

“After Thomas Jefferson said ‘pursuit of happiness’ we forgot that word until the kingdom of Bhutan rang that bell,”  said Freddy Elhers, Ecuador’s minister of Buen Vivir, which loosely translates as “living well.”    

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