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Advancing Human DevelopmentTheory and Practice$
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Frances Stewart, Gustav Ranis, and Emma Samman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198794455

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198794455.001.0001

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Should Happiness or Human Development be the Main Development Objective?

Should Happiness or Human Development be the Main Development Objective?

Chapter:
(p.26) 2 Should Happiness or Human Development be the Main Development Objective?
Source:
Advancing Human Development
Author(s):

Frances Stewart

Gustav Ranis

Emma Samman

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198794455.003.0002

This chapter analyses the new emphasis on happiness as the overriding objective of development. The view emerged in response to defects in income as a measure of progress, similar to the origin of the human development approach. After discussing the long historic origins and rationale of the view that societal happiness should be the sole measure of progress, it contrasts the happiness objective with human development, capabilities, and human rights. It argues that the more objective indicators embodied in human development, capabilities, and human rights, which measure the way people live, their health and education, and the freedoms they enjoy, are preferable to measures of happiness or satisfaction. Poor people may report themselves as happy even when their objective conditions are very inadequate. In assessing progress, human development indicators should be given priority, but evidence of unhappiness remains relevant, an indication that something is wrong which needs further investigation.

Keywords:   happiness, human development, satisfaction, health, unhappiness, utilitarianism

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