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Can the Government Make You Happy?

In an audience discussion held at the Sage Gateshead, Philip Dodd brings together two leading thinkers and policy-makers to debate the question 'can the Government make you happy?'.

Philip Dodd brings together two leading thinkers and policy-makers to debate the question: Can the Government Make You Happy?

It's a timely question. As the effects of the credit crunch continue to bedevil the developed world, across the globe policy-makers and economists are trying to make high levels of happiness a job for government, as if it were low inflation or strong growth. Happiness is rapidly becoming a high-profile pre-occupation as politicians explore ways of assessing the state-of-the-nation beyond economic output - both David Cameron and Ed Milliband have expressed their intention to measure Britain's "wellbeing".

But can happiness be created by anyone other than ourselves? And how should we calculate how much happiness is around and is it anybody else's business but our own?

Matthew Taylor, former advisor to Tony Blair and now Chief Executive of the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) and the science writer Matt Ridley, whose books include The Rational Optimist, discuss whether the boom in happiness studies could lead to a genuine increase in the nation's wellbeing.

Philip Dodd presents the programme, recorded in front of an audience at the Sage Gateshead, as part of BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking festival of ideas 2010. whose central theme this year is "the pursuit of happiness".

Producer: Lisa Davis.

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45 minutes

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Free Thinking

Free Thinking

Radio 3’s new home for arts and ideas.