Abstract Chapter 1 Introductory text to Collection Distributional Findings on Happiness in Nations


Utopic dreams about ‘The Ideal Society’ have led into a search for ‘Optimal Societies’. The present state of Social Science does not allow the deductive identification of optimal societies, but we can approach the matter inductively. Inductive identification of optimal societies involves five steps:
1) choice of performance criteria
2) operationalisation of these
3) application to a set of societies
4) establishment of a performance rank order
5) finding out why some societies perform better than others.

This chapter considers the usefulness of average happiness as a performance criterion. The focus is on step 3.

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