Conceptual difference and reality links

Ruut Veenhoven
Journal of Socio-Economics, 2010 39: 344-350, DOI: 10.1016/j.socec.2009.11.007

Happiness is not the same as capability, but the matters are related. Capability is obviously required for living a happy life and happiness feeds back on capability in several ways. Capabilities affect happiness not only at the individual level, but also indirectly at the societal level. For instance: school education does not seem to make pupils any happier, but a high level of education is required for modern society that does add to happiness.
Insight in the interrelations between capability and happiness is required for making policy choices. If the prime aim is greater happiness for a greater number, one must know what capabilities are most functional for happiness in the given conditions. If the cultivation of capabilities is prioritized, one must at least acknowledge the possible loss of happiness. Inspection of the available data does not reveal much conflict.

Key words: Capability, Happiness, Life-chances, Cross-national, Longitudinal, Research synthesis

Full text