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Encouraging governments to enhance the happiness of their nation : Step 1: understand subjective wellbeing
journal contributionposted on 01.03.2009, 00:00 authored by Robert CumminsRobert Cummins, Anna Lau, David MellorDavid Mellor, Mark StokesMark Stokes
This article considers the issue of facilitating policies that enhance population happiness. An impediment to such action is the failure of most policy makers to understand that subjective wellbeing can be measured and understood within the framework of science. Additionally, they fail to realize that enhancing the subjective wellbeing of populations enhances not only the functioning of individuals but that of the population as a whole. A framework for understanding calls on the Theory of Subjective Wellbeing Homeostasis and data from the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index. This Index has been used to monitor the subjective wellbeing of the Australian population over the 6-year period 2001–2006. The article begins by a description of the subjective wellbeing construct and the theory that it is homeostatically managed. The operation of homeostasis makes very determined predictions as to the kinds of relationships that should be found in association with various environmental challenges and resources. These predictions will be examined in the light of the data from our surveys and the benefits of population happiness will be discussed. Finally, consideration will be given as to and how such understanding may be conveyed to politicians, in order to assist the development of policies aimed at enhancing the level of happiness in society.