There are dramatic differences in average happiness across nations ranging from 3.24 in Togo to 8.00 in Denmark on a 0-10-points scale. These differences are an indication that collective conditions in nations are important for happiness. Can governments play a role in the creation of such conditions? This question is addressed in an analysis of average happiness in 131 nations in 2006. The following sub-questions are considered. (1) Is there a positive correlation between average happiness in nations and the quality or the size of governments? (2) Can we explain a positive correlation in terms of causality? (3) Can we specify causality by discerning direct and indirect effects? (4) What about governments and inequality in happiness? (5) What can governments do to increase happiness intentionally? The conclusion is that the technical quality of governments is an important cause for average happiness in nations, and this causality can be specified to some extent. Good governments also reduce inequality of happiness in nations eventually. The implication is that governments can increase average happiness, and in due time reduce inequality in happiness, and that they have some non-controversial options to do so on purpose.

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Journal of Happiness Studies
Department of Sociology

Ott, J. C. (2010). Greater Happiness for a Greater Number: Some Non-controversial Options for Governments. Journal of Happiness Studies, 11(5), 631–647. doi:10.1007/s10902-010-9206-x