CONN 345

Economics of Happiness

This course explores the intersection of economics and happiness. It critiques several of the key assumptions in mainstream economic theory, in particular those involving how the production and acquisition of greater material goods affect well-being. The course taps the research in the burgeoning field of the economics of happiness, much of which counters traditional economic ideas. The course also draws on recent related findings in positive psychology and to a lesser degree in neuroscience, specifically the findings in neuroscience that relate to mindfulness and meditation. In addition, the course utilizes several metrics (such as the Genuine Progress Indicator and the Happy Planet Index) to assess the happiness and well-being of different countries; these measures are juxtaposed with the standard measure of economic well-being: Gross Domestic Product (GDP). One of the alternative measures to GDP, Bhutan?s Gross National Happiness, serves as a vehicle to further consider the implications of Buddhist wisdom for economics. While examining these alternative measures, students consider the implications for social policy regarding issues such as consumerism, inequality, ecological sustainability and work-family balance.