Promoting wellbeing at work through regulation is counterproductive

Efforts to promote wellbeing at work through regulation are likely to be counterproductive, according to research by the Institute of Economic Affairs.

According to the report, … And the pursuit of happiness: wellbeing and the role of government, more regulation would see more jobs lost. It also found a strong link between unemployment and loss of wellbeing.

The most important indicator of happiness is wealth. The report said that the government’s strategy of measuring and explicitly promoting happiness over other objectives is a waste of money.

Mark Littlewood, director general at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: “Governments have shown how hopeless and inefficient they are at attempting to run the basics of our economy.

“To trust them with something far more intimate, complicated and confusing as happiness would be inviting disaster.”

Professor Philip Booth, editorial director of the Institute of Economic Affairs and editor of the report, added: “The government is spending money on collecting happiness statistics in order to promote government policies to try to increase aggregate national happiness.

“This is a flawed policy and based on a complete misconception that governments hitherto have focused only on increasing national income. The nation’s wellbeing will be improved if the government cuts back its activity and allows the economy, employment and families to flourish.”

Other findings include:

  • Evidence suggests that happiness is in fact related to income and economic growth. The Easterlin paradox (the idea that wellbeing does not increase with income) is shown to be false.
  • In general, more intrusive and bigger governments lead to a loss in wellbeing. Smaller governments tend to make people happier.
  • Public spending cuts could actually be the key to making Britain a happier place.

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