Document Type


Publication Date



Brookings Mountain West


For centuries the pursuit of happiness was the preserve of philosophers. More recently there is a burgeoning interest in the study of happiness in the social sciences. Can we really answer the question what makes people happy? Is it grounded in credible methods and data? Is there consistency in the determinants of happiness across countries and cultures? Are happiness levels innate to individuals or can policy and the environment make a difference? How is happiness affected by poverty and by progress? This presentation introduces a line of research which is both an attempt to understand the determinants of happiness and a tool for understanding the effects of a host of phenomena on human well being, ranging from macroeconomic and political trends to inequality, disease, and crime. The author will discuss the potential of happiness surveys to contribute to better public policy, as well as the potential pitfalls.


Happiness; Happiness – Economic aspects; Happiness – Effect of environment on; Well-being


Anthropology | Demography, Population, and Ecology | Economics | Family, Life Course, and Society | Inequality and Stratification | Medicine and Health | Place and Environment | Social Psychology | Social Welfare | Sociology | Urban Studies

File Format


File Size

215 KB

Streaming Media




5:30 p.m. Greenspun Hall Auditorium, UNLV

Audio/Video File size: 194 megabytes

Attached file: 21 PowerPoint slides

CGraham_PPt-Happiness_11-15-2011.pdf (214 kB)
Happiness around the World: Happy Peasants, Miserable Millionaires, and Questions for Policy