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Fri 4 Feb 2011 11:00 BBC Radio 4

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Friday 04 February 2011

Claudia Hammond looks at the government's plan to measure the nation's happiness and asks whether happiness and a sense of wellbeing are skills that can be taught. A growing body of evidence, from fields such as positive psychology, suggests that happier, more optimistic people live longer and are ultimately more successful than people with a more pessimistic nature. But is optimism something that can be learnt, and can it be applied to an entire nation? The government's recent announcement that it will be measuring the nation's wellbeing, as an alternative indicator to the nation's progress and as opposed to more economic measures such as GDP, has caused some controversy. Claudia looks at how you go about measuring something as subjective and personal as happiness, and can it really be done for an entire nation? She asks if how we feel as a population really matters, and whether a happier nation is really a more successful one.
Producer: Alexandra Feachem.


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