What We Have Learnt About Happiness

Classic Qualms in the Light of Recent Research
  • Ruut VeenhovenEmail author
Part of the Social Indicators Research Series book series (SINS, volume 60)


Happiness has long been a subject for philosophers. A main question was whether greater happiness for a greater number is possible. Enlightened progress optimists envisioned that happiness can be furthered by the use of reason, but pessimists claimed that happiness is too elusive to grasp and that its pursuit will not bring us further, we will jump from the frying pan into the fire.

Armchair theorizing has not settled this debate. Empirical answers became possible in the 1960s, when the social indicator movement took off. Alex Michalos was a pioneer in this strand of research, in which happiness is commonly defined as the subjective enjoyment of one’s life as a whole. Thus defined, happiness can be well measured using self reports. To date this has given us a solid body of knowledge, which can now be used to debunk several classic qualms.

Happiness, life-satisfaction, research synthesis, utilitarianism


Good Life Happy People Great Happiness Average Happiness World Database 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Erasmus Happiness Economics Research Organization, EHEROErasmus University RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Optentia Research ProgramNorth-West UniversityVanderbijlparkSouth Africa

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