Book News: February 23rd, 2010

This report from the Young Foundation and the IDeA highlights that promoting and influencing happiness is no longer just an aspiration. As the recession forces difficult public spending choices, services focused on wellbeing are delivering widespread economic and social benefits, especially to children.

‘The State of Happiness’ brings together four years of groundbreaking work based on in-depth pilot projects with three councils in very different areas of the country. Against a backdrop of intense pressures on public spending, the report recommends prioritising programmes that teach children resilience in schools, drawing on strong evidence that this improves academic performance and behaviour, as well as future employability.

The authors also argue that opportunities for neighbours to get to know each other should be promoted, because there is clear evidence that this tends to enhance wellbeing.

Governments cannot ‘make people happy’, but they can create the conditions in which they are more likely to be happy. It used to be claimed that you couldn’t measure wellbeing, and then that governments could do nothing to influence it. This report shows both arguments to be outdated.

THE STATE OF HAPPINESS is available at