This book is devoted to applying the data, methods, and theories of contemporary social science to the question of how political outcomes in democratic societies determine the quality of life that citizens experience. Benjamin Radcliff seeks to provide an objective answer to the perennial debate between Left and Right over what public policies best contribute to human beings leading positive and rewarding lives.
The book thus offers an empirical answer to this perpetual question, relying on the same canons of reason and evidence required of any other issue amenable to study through social-scientific means. The analysis focuses on the consequences of three specific political issues: the welfare state and the general size of government, labor organization, and state efforts to protect workers and consumers through economic regulation. The results indicate that in each instance, the program of the Left best contributes to citizens leading more satisfying lives, and, critically, that the benefits of greater happiness accrue to everyone in society, rich and poor alike.