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A call to "legislate the good life"

Booster Shots' Karen Kaplan certainly got my attention when she wrote this afternoon that we could see the creation of a "U.S. Department of Happiness" someday. Uh, come again? She explains:

That’s right. There’s a growing movement among economists and other researchers to make the psychological well-being of citizens a major government priority. The first step, they say, is to come up with a way to measure a nation’s happiness. Ideally they’d like to be able to boil it all down into a single statistic that will resonate with voters – think of it as a mental health equivalent of GDP or the unemployment rate.

If this all sounds ridiculously far-fetched, consider that the U.S. government is already “taking steps to measure quality of life,” according to a commentary published in Thursday’s edition of the journal Nature. So are government officials in Britain, Germany, China, France, Australia, Ecuador, Italy and Spain.

Kaplan's entry and the summary of the Nature piece, during which author Charles Seaford says it’s “time to legislate the good life,” are both worth a read.

Photo by Candie_N

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