Professor of Behavioural Science at the London School of Economics and Political Science, expert on human behaviour and happiness, and author of best-selling book Happiness by Design and Happy Ever After.
Published material relating to the COVID-19 pandemic
“We’re following the science.” From the very start of the Covid-19 pandemic, ministers have emphasised the leading role that the science of virus transmission and mortality risks has played in their decisions.
But the policy responses to the virus have affected many aspects of our physical and mental health, as well as having massive economic and social consequences, too.
So, really, we should also have heard the government say just as loudly that “We’re following the social science” – and that includes education specialists.
“What are the medical imperatives? What are the dangers of the virus, isolation, domestic abuse, mental health crises and poverty? By focusing on the most vulnerable and elderly, are we doubling down on generational injustice? The behavioural economist Paul Dolan, author of Happy Ever After discusses the societal pressures and implications with Magdalena Skipper, the editor of Nature magazine.”
“There are many narratives about how we should live our lives. We should seek success, for example, and we are masters of our own destiny. We use these narratives as sticks to beat others with if they don’t conform. I will consider whether these narratives are good for us and why we care way too much about what others do. Dolan is Professor of Behavioural Science at the LSE and author of Happy Ever After.”
“Schools might never have closed in the first place had the coronavirus not started in China. Imagine it had started in Sweden. Whoever responded first was going to set the tone for the nations that followed. When we are uncertain about what to do, we look to the behaviour of others to guide us.”
“As lockdown eases, employers will bring back some of their staff before others. Drawing on their research into the negative effects of downward income mobility, Paul Dolan and Grace Lordan (LSE) suggest they take into account people’s preferences, and bring back those who are keenest to return to work first.“
“The COVID-19 health pandemic is having a major impact on our lives. Very little is known, however, about the effects of the policy responses on people’s wellbeing. We estimate the wellbeing costs of COVID-19 and social distancing measures by looking at the impacts of the pandemic on the mental health and wellbeing of people in the UK between 9 and 19 April 2020 using a large survey with nationally representative quotas.”
“The fair innings argument proposes that we should all be entitled to a “good” life – which, for simplicity, can approximated by how long it lasts. Most current policy responses to COVID-19 are at odds with this notion of equality over the course of one’s lifetime, argues Paul Dolan (LSE). They do not pay enough attention to the ages of all those who will die as a result of pandemic suppression policies. Policymakers need to urgently provide estimates of which groups will die prematurely as a result of their decisions.“
“In tackling Covid-19, the UK made a very significant decision to move from a mitigation strategy to one of suppression in mid-March 2020. As with any decision, this brings benefits and creates costs. In this paper, we seek to provide an indicative value of the benefits from the policy shift. We calculate the expected monetary value of the deaths prevented using data available when the decision was made.”
“In the current crisis, governments are paying enormous attention to the mortality risks of Covid-19 to the exclusion of the misery hits borne elsewhere. The only data presented at news conferences is that relating to the number of infections and deaths. Such data is transparent and provides an important summary of the loss of human life and the potential strain on healthcare.”
Paul Dolan is as ebullient over the phone as he is in real life. Lockdown, on the surface, has not dulled the spirits of the man nicknamed the “Professor of Happiness”.
A government adviser on wellbeing and author of two books, Happiness by Design and Happy Ever After, Dolan, a professor of behavioural science at the London School of Economics, has long argued that we can redesign our lives for maximum happiness. “
“Covid-19 is a public health crisis. At least, this is what the doctors, epidemiologists and clinicians who command the air waves are telling us. They’re right, of course. But it isn’t only that: it’s an economic and social crisis too – and yet social scientists have hardly been heard from.”