What is progress? Could our societies grow richer but everyone get more miserable? Is output the best measure of progress if the environment is ruined and employment becomes much more insecure?
Such questions bring openEconomy and OurKingdom together to host The Happiness Debate. In the UK, Prime Minister Cameron has announced that the government will collect data on Britain's happiness levels. President Nicholas Sarkozy already claims to be implementing recommendations by Armatya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz on how to move beyond a preoccupation with GDP as a national performance indicator.
We think this is an opportunity to re-examine the sources of value in our public and private lives, and the extent to which different forms of production and consumption are to be valued, over and above their monetary aspects. OurKingdom and openEconomy will take a many-angled approach to the debate, drawing on economics, social and cultural theory, political philosophy and the experience of life in the 21st century to re-examine the apparently simple question: what is it all for?
The debate opens with Will Davies' essay on the relationship between happiness and production.