The Illusion of Well-Being

Economic Policymaking Based on Respect and Responsiveness

  • Authors
  • Mark D. White

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. Mark D. White
    Pages 1-7
  3. Mark D. White
    Pages 9-49
  4. Mark D. White
    Pages 51-90
  5. Mark D. White
    Pages 91-127
  6. Mark D. White
    Pages 129-165
  7. Mark D. White
    Pages 167-168
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 169-206

About this book


The use of measures of economic output to guide policymaking has been criticized for decades because of their weak ties to human well-being. Recently, many scholars and politicians have called for measures of happiness or subjective well-being to be used to guide policy in people's true interests. In The Illusion of Well-Being, Mark D. White explains why using happiness as a tool for policymaking is misguided and unethical. Happiness is too vague a term to define, and too general a concept, to measure in a way that captures people's true feelings. He extends this critique to well-being in general and concludes that no measure of well-being can do justice to people's true interests, which are complex, multifaceted, and subjective. White suggests instead that policymaking be conducted according to respect and responsiveness, promoting the true interests of citizens while addressing their real needs, and devoting government resources to where they can do the most good.


economics welfare economics government politics policy happiness well-being paternalism economic policy Government Policy policymaking welfare

Bibliographic information