Is everybody happy? The politics and measurement of national wellbeing

Michael Tomlinson, Grace Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores the political and intellectual influences behind the growth of interest in happiness and the emergence of the new 'science of happiness'. It offers a critique of the use of subjective wellbeing indicators within indexes of social and economic progress, and argues that the proposed United Kingdom's National Well-being Index is over-reliant on subjective measures. We conclude by arguing that the mainstreaming of happiness indicators reflects and supports the emergence of 'behavioural social policy'.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-157
Number of pages19
JournalPolicy & Politics
Issue number2
Early online date13 Feb 2013
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013


  • happiness - subjective wellbeing - inequality - social indicators

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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