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The happiness debate—live

By Tom Nuttall  

Looks like the Economist-sponsored debate at Gotham Hall in New York City was the place to be on Saturday evening. In the blue corner we had libertarian heavyweights (and Prospect contributors) Tyler Cowen and Will Wilkinson, attacking the proposition that “America is failing at the pursuit of happiness” against their red-corner interlocutors Jeffrey Sachs and Betsey Stevenson.

As so often happens when new evidence from the social sciences begins to feed into policy debates, the initial divisions over how best to apply the lessons from “happiness studies” to public policy have calcified into drearily familiar left/right arguments over state intervention,…

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