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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines

Counts for nothing

Measuring happiness is impossible

Back in his all-things-to-all-voters days, before the crash and austerity diverted the young David Cameron from his land of milk and honey, he liked to claim GWB (General Well-Being) trumped GDP. Virtually nothing else survives from the hug-a-hoodie days, but there is a legacy here. Since 2010, the government has been tracking national well-being, by surveying citizens on four questions about how happy, satisfied and anxious they are, and how worthwhile they feel their life is. No one but a misery guts wants to stop people being happy, but the fundamental problem here is that all the measures are quantitative, ranking how you feel on a one-to-10 scale, whereas the most important variations are qualitative.

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In Prospect's November issue: Paul Collier explains how major cities in the UK will always be in the shadow of London unless capitalism is overhauled and suggests ways that we might be able to improve the situation in those communities that capitalism has left behind. Meanwhile, Steve Bloomfield asks what is going at the Foreign Office. The once great institution that was a symbol of Britain’s global power now seems to be lost and unable to explains its role. Also, Samira Shackle explores a Pakistani protest movement that is unnerving the country’s military. Elsewhere in the issue: Dahlia Lithwick suggests that the Supreme Court will struggle to retain its authority now that Brett Kavanaugh is on the bench. Philip Ball argues that DNA doesn’t define destiny as he reviews a new book by Robert Plomin. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and Simon Heffer debate political correctness.