Sir Gus O' Donnell on well-being politics
Here's a recording of the head of the civil service, Sir Gus O' Donnell, talking at a recent House of Commons panel on national well-being measurements and how policy-makers can use them.
Interesting to hear Sir Gus worked with Amartya Sen earlier in his career. But I'm not sure he's right that Sen supports the use of national happiness indicators. Where does Sen say that? Look at this clip of Sen speaking in 2010. Sen says in it that the problem with happiness indicators is they pay no attention to freedom, choice, agency or values. He says: 'There's something odd in the insistence that no importance is given to anything other than happiness'. He goes: 'the narrow view of individual well-being, defining it exclusively as happiness...gives you misleading signals. It can be very misleading since our expectations and tolerance tends to get adjusted to circumstances. The utilitarian calculus can be deeply unfair to those who are habitually deprived...So the happiness based indicators of social achievement are deeply problematic.'