The dramatic interventions to fight the coronavirus pandemic undertaken by many governments all around the globe are unique since the Second World War. They massively restrict economic, civil society, cultural, and personal freedoms. So far the population has been willing to cooperate. In view of the huge current and future costs, it is crucial that citizens remain confident that there are good reasons for the measures. This trust is endangered if the population is unable to understand crucial aspects, and therefore insecurity grows. The costs to be borne vary greatly: permanent employees or civil servants are far less affected than restaurant operators, hairdressers, self-employed cultural workers, and most shop owners. Their confidence is based essentially on how well the following questions are answered. What guidance can the social sciences offer?
While current happiness research has made significant progress, happiness policy , by contrast, is based on two simplistic assumptions: first, that politicians and public administrators are sufficiently informed about what influences subjective life satisfaction; and second, that politicians and public administrators will solely pursue the well-being of the population. However, in a democracy, happiness policy takes the results of happiness research to be only one ingredient (albeit an important one) in the wider political process. Critically, a political discourse that engages citizens, rather than a technocratic approach, is the way forward when considering the advantages and disadvantages of particular happiness policies.