England & Wales

What we’re reading 15/11/10


Measuring happiness. The government today announced plans to launch national surveys to establish our level of well-being. This idea’s been knocking around for some time now. David Cameron talked about it back in 2006 but it’s brave to carry it forward into Government and certain to attract criticism from left and right. (more on this later if we have time).

If you’re interested in happiness as a goal of public policy it’s worth reading the findings of the Sarkozy Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress (possibly the most intimidating collections of Nobel laureates and other academic heavyweights ever assembled).

And of course we should revisit the original and arguably still the best consideration of these issues.

It seems a strange leap to go from happiness to dying, but a new report by Demos argues that we could do a lot more to give the dying dignity, grace and agency. It proposes specialist end of life trusts, the nurturing of key relationships and an extension of personalised budgets.

Finally, an article in this month’s Prospect magazine argues that geography is declining in importance. For localists that’s a key argument and one which challenges us to think about what really defines the ‘local’ now and in the future.